Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a term describing a variety of procedures used to resolve disputes and encourage win-win decisions.  These procedures can range from assisted decision-making involving a neutral third party through mediation, to actual decision-making by a third party, as in arbitration.
Assisted decision-making, in which the parties make their own decisions, may involve something relatively simple such as coaching or relationship-building, to more complex procedural guidance including facilitation and mediation assistance from a neutral third-party, or substantive assistance such as early neutral evaluation, fact-finding, and settlement conferences conducted by attorneys or retired judges.

Taken together, many ADR procedures tend to be less adversarial than a court trial, and are often cheaper, faster, less formalistic, and satisfaction with the final decision is higher.  The parties take ownership in the agreed-upon decision because they participated in its development and details.  This means that in contrast to court decisions, and even arbitration, where the losing party may appeal, facilitated decisions directly involving the participants are more likely to be implemented.  Speaking with a trained ADR professional is often a good first step in order to best match the dispute or issue to an appropriate ADR procedure, or determine whether the matter should instead be resolved by a court.

There are circumstances where a particular technique may be more appropriate than others given the needs of the parties and the nature of the dispute. For example, arbitration may be more appropriate than mediation when considering whether the clauses of a contract have been complied with.