Understanding Alternative Dispute Resolution in California
As a law student, you may be surprised to hear that it is possible for attorneys to spend significant amounts of time with their clients, involved in mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution. This is often the case in divorce cases, but many times in business cases also. As a trial attorney you may hope to avoid processes like alternative dispute resolution and practice your skills in the courtroom, but it may be judge mandated. Mediation, for instance, may also be extremely popular with clients who want to avoid the stress of the courtroom.
Litigation can, undoubtedly in some cases, be long and drawn out. Your case may not be heard for months, and it could take some time to reach a resolution. In the meantime, going to trial may also be expensive for your client; thus, there are many reasons they may be glad to go to a process like mediation. Run by a neutral party, the mediator is meant to be a helping third party, but not a decider. They are there to help guide the parties in reaching a settlement and should be skilled in assisting when there is a stalemate, and both parties need a different way to look at the legal dispute and any settlement offers looming. Mediation is almost always successful and allows for a faster and more affordable resolution.
Arbitration is a bit more like the courtroom in comparison to the relaxed and casual atmosphere of mediation. Still, it is usually much faster and more flexible in scheduling, along with offering greater affordability to everyone involved. In this type of ADR, however, the arbitrator decides the case—and it can be extremely difficult to appeal (and win) later. An arbitration is usually led by one arbitrator, but there could also be an entire panel who decide the case and then draw up all the appropriate legal documents.
Some parties may not be able to decide on one arbitrator (usually a retired judge, attorney, or professional with experience related to the case and issue in dispute) or even a panel of them, leaving the judge to do so. While tempers may still flare and it may not be easy to come to a settlement, most parties have an easier time communicating while in ADR, and attorneys have a greater chance to use their negotiating skills.
Are you interested in becoming a skilled lawyer and negotiator? Our mission at CDTA College of Law is to educate, train, and develop extraordinary legal advocates. Your legal education will be comprised of bar-tested academic subjects, skills training, and values reinforcement. Upon completion of your 4-year course of study you will be fully qualified to take and pass the California Bar examination. Call us today at (760) 342-0900 or find out more online here.