Alternative Dispute Resolution In Federal Courts

In recent times, alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) is emerging as a favorable option for legal disputes due to rising litigation costs and the strain of growing caseloads for California state and federal courts. While state courts adopted ADR as an option to legal resolution earlier, federal courts are adopting various ADR options now as a means of resolving cases. ADR includes any method of seeking a legal resolution outside of court other than traditional civil litigation, which takes place in court. The various ADR options, include, but are not limited to, early neutral evaluation, mediation, arbitration, and negotiation. As federal courts look to these options to resolve cases, ADR continues to move to the forefront as a viable tool for all types of legal disputes.

What Role Does ADR Play in Federal Courts?

While parties can instigate ADR proceedings on their own, often courts will refer cases to ADR in order to resolve a legal dispute. Indeed, according to a study by the Federal Judicial Center, all federal courts authorize some type of alternative dispute resolution. Today, more than 30% of federal courts allow for various forms of ADR proceedings. Mediation has emerged as the most common form of ADR for federal cases. Courts will refer cases to mediation in an attempt to resolve the conflicting issues outside of court, which also allows a resolution that is mutually-beneficial and less hostile than litigation. Arbitration and Early Neutral Evaluation are also common forms of ADR in federal cases. Most recently, federal courts have adopted ADR programs for pro se litigants, or parties who are not represented by attorneys.

What Are the Benefits of Using ADR?

Alternative dispute resolution is a cost-efficient and less confrontational means of settling legal disputes. In addition, ADR takes places outside of court, which helps speed up the time it takes to reach a resolution. Arbitration and mediation are the most common forms of ADR. Mediation, though generally non-binding, provides parties an opportunity to evaluate and discuss their individual claims before a neutral mediator. The court will often assign a mediator to the case, and in certain cases, the mediator may help guide the parties towards a resolution. Arbitration is a more formal option, and can also be binding (i.e., the resolution is enforceable and the terms are mandatory). A neutral arbitrator, often a retired judge, oversees the arbitration. Binding arbitration is especially beneficial in cases dealing with unique legal circumstances because parties can seek an arbitrator with experience in that area of law. Individuals participating in arbitration can also set their own rules for discovery and evidence, essentially dictating the pace and structure of their case.

At the Law Offices of Salar Atrizadeh, we guide our clients in legal matters regarding all aspects of alternative dispute resolution by using extensive knowledge and skills to create solutions. Please contact us today to set up a confidential consultation.