Litigation can be a very expensive process, for both litigants and courts. It can be beneficial for everyone involved if prior to, or instead of, going to court and arguing in front of a judge, both parties engage in an alternative dispute resolution. Alternative dispute resolution are alternatives to litigation that either seek to bring both parties to a compromise or, in the case of binding arbitration, to act instead of formal litigation. An alternative dispute resolution attorney can help you negotiate terms that best meet your needs, or in the case of binding arbitration, secure a judgment that has the same impact as a judgment in the court.
Mediation is an alternative to litigation where both sides of a conflict, with the support of a mediator, seek a compromise. Mediation, by its nature, requires that both sides give up something in order to obtain their end. For instance, let’s say you’re an employee of a bank. Your manager fires you because of your sexual orientation, and as part of the legal process of litigating that firing you decide to engage in mediation. What you most want out of this arrangement is to be reinstated, with back pay, and receive $500,000.00 in punitive damages. What your employer most wants is to not give you pack pay and to not pay $500,000.00. As part of the negotiating process, you both come to an agreement that you will be reinstated at your position with back pay. You did not get everything you wanted, nor did your employer, but you both gained enough of what you wanted that you could leave mediation happy and satisfied. In order to best negotiate, having an alternative dispute resolution attorney can help you negotiate with years of experience.
Arbitration is a process that is incredibly similar to litigation. The person in charge of the process is an arbitrator, and they essentially are the judge in the case. The arbitrator is chosen by mutual agreement of both parties, very much unlike litigation, but both sides present evidence to convince the arbitrator of the correctness of their position. At the end of the arbitration, the arbitrator will enter a judgment that has the same weight as a judge making a decision. Let’s say that you are, again, a bank employee who was fired by your manager because of your sexual orientation. Perhaps you already engaged in mediation, but were unable to come to a resolution that was acceptable to both parties. During the arbitration you will have to present evidence to the arbitrator (such as written conversations with your manager who said homophobic things to you, eyewitness testimony by coworkers of your manager’s mistreatment of you because of your sexual orientation, etc) and argue that not only should you be reinstated with back pay, but that this represents and egregious violation of your rights and you should be paid $500,000.00 in compensation for that violation. The arbitrator agrees with you, and from there you can take their agreement and file it with the court, where you can use the court’s resources to make the bank pay what they owe you. Because this process is incredibly similar to a trial, with all the requirements that come with it, having an alternative dispute resolution attorney can be invaluable.