ADR Alternative Dispute Resolution is written in a white notepad

Alternative Dispute Resolution Options

Law Office of David J. Hollander July 21, 2023

At some point in your life, you’ll likely need help resolving a dispute. Most people will want to turn to a lawyer for help and expect litigation, with its high costs and lengthy time frame, as the only alternative to resolve the dispute. However, there are options for resolving disputes that don’t involve lawsuits, that are less expensive, involve shorter time, and are not part of the public record, that you should be aware of.  

If you need help solving a legal disagreement, you may want to consider hiring an attorney skilled in alternative dispute resolution (ADR). At the Law Office of David J. Hollander in San Diego, California, you’ll work with a lawyer with over 35 years of experience who can educate you on your choices and help you come up with a solution that is uniquely tailored to your needs. Call today to get started. 

What Is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)?

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is an umbrella term used to describe any approach to settling a legal dispute that doesn’t involve litigation or going to court. These litigation alternatives commonly include mediation, arbitration, early neutral evaluation, collaborative law, conciliation, negotiation, and an approach called med-arb (a combination of mediation and arbitration). 

Most people should try at least one of these methods before resorting to litigation because there are so many benefits:  

  • Costs: Presenting your case in front of a judge in a lawsuit can be a costly undertaking. By using ADR, you can avoid or minimize attorney’s fees, expert fees, and court fees. 

  • Time: Disputes will almost always be resolved faster when using ADR than with a lawsuit. In some instances, it can take over a year to schedule a hearing with a judge if your case has to go to trial. 

  • Increases control: When you argue your case in front of a judge, they will evaluate all the evidence presented at trial and come to a determination based on their analysis. The courts decision is final, unless appealed. You have very little control or say in the outcome. With ADR, you control or at least participate in determining the final outcome.  

  • Maintains relationships: Many legal disputes are between family members, business partners, or parties that desire to maintain a civil or business relationship with even after their dispute is resolved. ADR can facilitate productive conversations and bring about agreements that satisfy both parties. 

What Is Mediation?

Mediation is one of the most popular types of ADR and is used commonly in resolving all types of disputes, including business law, real estate, construction disputes and judgment enforcement matters. This approach uses a trained mediator (this person is often a retired judge, experienced attorney, but person with expert knowledge in a particular field) who acts as a neutral facilitator to help the parties reach an agreement and avoid litigation. 

The participants during a mediation are the neutral mediator, the parties involved in the dispute and their attorneys. Sometimes mediations involve witnesses or experts that can help the mediator evaluate some of the issues. Mediation is a voluntary process and is not binding on the parties, unless an agreement is reached. Importantly, a mediator does not take sides and does not make any decisions about the dispute. Rather, they help the participants come to a joint agreement on their own.  

The one downside of mediation is that if you cannot come to an agreement, you will have to pursue other avenues to resolve your dispute which either means arbitration or litigation—both of which will end up costing you more money and take longer to resolve. 

What Is Arbitration?

Arbitration is a similar process to a court trial, except there is no jury, there is no public record of the proceeding, the costs are usually less than a lawsuit, but not always, and the time to get a hearing is usually, but not always shorter than going to a court trial. When two parties use an arbitrator, this person will make a decision for them which can is legally binding and can be confirmed as a judgment of the court. Like a judge, an impartial arbiter will hear evidence presented from both sides and then make a decision based on their evaluation. Many business contracts include language that requires arbitration instead of court legal action.  

What Is Med-Arb?

Med-Arb is a hybrid approach to dispute resolution that marries the two processes of mediation and arbitration to give the participants the highest likelihood of reaching a final arrangement. Here, the impartial third-party facilitator begins their work as a mediator, hoping to aid in a joint agreement made by the two parties. 

However, if this cannot be done then the facilitator becomes an arbiter and uses the information they learned during the mediation sessions to make a determination. Med-Arb can be effective because it encourages the disputing parties to come to a solution on their own or else risk having the decision made for them without having a say in the matter.

Find a Peaceful Resolution

If you’re in San Diego, California, or anywhere throughout San Diego County and would like to sit down with a business law attorney, call the Law Office of David J. Hollander.