Alternative Dispute Resolution
More and more often, disputes are being resolved without litigation. The primary methods of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) are arbitration and mediation. Several attorneys at Lanier Ford are certified arbitrators and mediators. Many of our attorneys are skilled at advocating our clients' interests in arbitration and mediation proceedings. Finally, our attorneys draft ADR clauses for insertion in contracts.
How is ADR different from litigation?
When someone goes to court to resolve a legal dispute (litigates the dispute), he or she has a right to a trial with a judge and a jury. During the trial, the judge decides issues of law and the jury decides issues of fact, including how much the defendant has to pay if the defendant loses the case. Sometimes, the parties dispense with the jury and have what is called a bench trial in which the judge decides both issues of law and fact. Once a trial court reaches a decision, either party has the right to appeal the trial court’s decision. If the case starts in an Alabama circuit court, this right of appeal may involve a hearing before the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, the Alabama Supreme Court, and potentially the U.S. Supreme Court. If the case starts in a U.S. district court, the right of appeal may involve a hearing before a panel of judges of a U.S. circuit court of appeals, all the judges of a U.S. circuit court of appeals, and ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court.
If the parties decide to use ADR, the parties lose (1) the right to a trial with a judge and jury and (2) the right to an appeal. The loss of these rights, of course, explains why ADR is typically cheaper and less time consuming than litigation.