Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) refers to a number of methods used to settle controversies outside the civil court system. These include nonbinding arbitration, binding arbitration and mediation. When you choose the ADR route, it’s important to remember you are still involved in an adversarial process. Moreover, if you agree to binding arbitration, you are giving up any and all rights to appeal the decision. At The Law Office of Stacey E. Andersen, LLC, I draw on years of experience in representing clients in ADR proceedings throughout Maryland to help them avoid the burdens and stress of a courtroom trial.
Mediation can be seen as the first step in a two-step process. During mediation, parties may argue over the interpretation of a clause in a contract or a fair award for damaged property. The mediator will work with them to forge an agreement. He will not impose a result, but rather help them achieve it. If the parties can’t agree, the dispute might move to arbitration, where a neutral arbitrator will listen to the facts of a case and render a decision. In nonbinding arbitration, the parties can reject the decision and then move on to binding arbitration or trial. In binding arbitration, parties agree to abide by whatever the arbitrator decides and there is no appeal.
Each stage of this process requires preparation, execution and high-level decision-making, weighing costs and benefits and anticipating consequences. I approach arbitration as I would a trial: meticulously preparing your case, researching relevant law and weaving material facts into a compelling narrative asserting your cause.
Arbitration is designed to reach a fair outcome without the expense and time of a trial. When it is voluntary, arbitration helps many people who might otherwise be shut out of the justice system by high costs. However, arbitration is still an adversarial process, with each side presenting their case and rebutting their opponent’s. This is especially true if your opponent is a corporation with a mandatory arbitration clause in its contract. Since that company has lawyers focused on winning arbitration cases, you need equally professional and dedicated representation that puts your interests first.
A trial judge would also be neutral, but you probably would not venture to represent yourself in court. I know how to approach arbitration proceedings to display your case in the best light to help ensure an outcome based upon the merits of your case.
Don’t delay if you feel your dispute could benefit from the fast track of alternative dispute resolution. Reach out to The Law Office of Stacey E. Andersen, LLC to schedule a consultation at my Towson office. Call 410-637-8440 or contact me online today.