We are a full service alternative dispute resolution services firm providing administrator services, conflict training and independent neutrals for alternative dispute resolution for corporate, government, institutions and non-profit clients. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) consists of methods by which legal conflicts and disputes are resolved through arbitration, negotiation, conciliation and mediation.
Our services include both pre and post litigation work. We facilitate win–win outcomes and use flexible processes to achieve these results.
Alternative dispute resolution is less formal than a court process and is less costly; and includes the appointment of a neutral third-party to preside over a hearing between the disputing parties. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is a cost effective way to resolve many disputes short of costly litigation.
Our broad range of dispute resolution processes and the strengths of a dynamic pool of independent neutrals offer all forms of alternative dispute resolution and are available throughout the country and all U.S. territories.
Other Services includes: case management, administrative services and staff training in conflict management and various forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR); consulting services in design and implementation of workplace conflict management systems and processes. As neutrals, we can assist and serve all parties in disputes. As providers of mediation training, we offer programs for in-house conflict specialists, ombudsmen, human resource personnel, management, supervisors and others whose work involves resolving conflict.
The goal of mediation is to amicably resolve a dispute through the efforts of the parties. The role of the mediator is to utilize patience, persuasion and people skills to facilitate the dialogue between the parties in order to reach settlement. The mediator does not have the authority to render a decision; the parties are not compelled to reach an agreement. Any party is free to leave the mediation at any time. The mediation process itself involves a series of joint sessions and private caucuses. The mediator will make the determination of when each type of meeting will be conducted.
Typically the mediation will start with a joint session that includes all of the participants to the dispute and then the groups will be divided for private caucuses. The mediator will shuttle back and forth between the parties until either impasse or a settlement is reached. Impasse is declared when one or more parties or the neutral determines that continued negotiations would be fruitless at this time. If a settlement is reached its terms should be written down and signed by the parties making it enforceable as if it were a contract.
Mediation is a very flexible process that can be effectively used at any time during the course of the dispute. Because the process is non-adversarial, there are numerous benefits over trial in addition to saving time and money. Mediation allows the parties to maintain relationships and offers the greatest opportunity for creative problem solving. Mediation sessions commonly last from a few hours to one day.
Arbitration is an adversarial process where a neutral arbitrator renders a decision, called an award, after there has been a presentation of evidence. Like a court trial, arbitration may include representation by counsel, pre-hearing discovery, written briefs, examination of witnesses and oral arguments.
The advantages of this process arise from the ways in which arbitration differs from a court trial. First, arbitration procedures are flexible and less formal. This flexibility can lead to significant cost savings in terms of time and expense. Another benefit is that the parties can choose their arbitrator directly which enables them to pick someone with the requisite amount of experience and subject matter expertise to render an accurate award. Finally, the arbitration process is private and confidential, and usually final. The parties may become involved in the arbitration process in one of three ways: court ordered, contractual or by stipulation. In a court ordered arbitration, the judge has ordered the parties to arbitrate based upon certain aspects of their dispute. Court ordered arbitrations are non-binding, meaning that either party that is dissatisfied with the award of the arbitrator may request a new trial. Since the process is non-binding, no party has given up any constitutional rights by engaging in arbitration.
Contractual arbitration and arbitration by stipulation are private and binding. Here, the parties have chosen to go to arbitration instead of through a court trial. There is no appeal process in traditional arbitration and thus the award of the arbitrator is final except for the most extraordinary circumstances. In contractual arbitration the parties have agreed pursuant to a contract between them that in the event of a dispute, the matter will be arbitrated. There will be a set of rules or procedures incorporated into the arbitration clause that dictate how the parties will proceed. Under arbitration by stipulation scenario; the parties have agreed to arbitrate after the dispute has arisen. The parties are bound by the rules and procedures of the arbitration process.
These are conducted by a Hearing Officer with the counsels for each of the parties. Settlement conferences tend to be shorter in duration than mediation, and may not include the parties in a participatory sense other than to get their agreement to a settlement proposal. The objective of a settlement conference is to get the parties to resolve the matter before the trial begins. The parties rely on the evaluation of the Hearing Officer to provide feedback as to the relative strength of their position. Hearing Officer’s will make an extra effort to utilize mediation skills to encourage the parties toward settlement.
Conciliation / Negotiation / Facilitation
These terms are often used interchangeably. Generally, negotiation is an interchange between two or more parties in an attempt to reach a compromise. Negotiation is at the core of most Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) processes. Traditionally, negotiation occurs directly between the parties and their counsel and does not involve a neutral third party. If the negotiations break down and/or reach an impasse, a third party may be introduced creating a process of facilitated negotiation. Facilitated negotiation is a more ad hoc and informal process than mediation. Conciliation is a process that involves a neutral third party to communicate with the parties in the exchange of information and settlement options. This process closely resembles mediation before a mediator with a facilitative style.
Discovery Referees are most commonly used in complex matters where there is a disagreement between the parties relating to the scope and subject matter of discovery. These disputes can be very time consuming and emotional. To improve efficiency, the trial court has the jurisdiction to appoint a referee if the judge feels that it is warranted by the situation. The process may be "voluntary" or "involuntary" and is governed by the Code of Civil Procedure. A reference is voluntary when the parties and their counsel agree that the appointment of a referee is necessary. Often they will also have agreed to who shall serve as the referee. The referee need not be a retired judge, but almost always is at least a lawyer due to the nature of the appointment and the knowledge necessary to fulfill those duties. A reference is involuntary when the judge independently determines that a referee is needed. The parties may still have the option of selecting their referee, but the judge will appoint one if the parties can not agree on someone who is mutually acceptable.
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