Disputes can be resolved using many different methods. Traditionally, attorneys were hired to file a lawsuit and take the case to trial if a settlement was not reached through negotiation. While some cases are still handled in this manner, there are other options that may work just as well or better.
We call these methods Alternative Dispute Resolution, “ADR” for short. These options can be faster, less expensive and more satisfying ways of resolving disputes. ADR can be used for any type of dispute, including divorces and other family issues, ending other relationships, probate, and small business disputes or dissolutions.
Our attorneys can assist you in resolving your dispute in any of the following ways:
• Collaborative Practice
• Neutral Case Evaluation
• Case Management
• Private Judging
A neutral mediator assists people in reaching a resolution acceptable to all. The mediator’s role is to help the participants determine what is most important to them in an agreement and to assist them in gathering the relevant information. The mediator facilitates communication and helps to guide the participants to an agreement. The mediator then memorializes the agreement in writing. Attorneys can be used during the mediation, either as consultants or participants, and can be used to review the written agreement.
Mediation without attorneys at the meetings works well for people who feel comfortable speaking for themselves, and who can analyze information and negotiate without an attorney individually assisting them.
Mediation with attorneys present works for those who wish to have the additional guidance and advice of attorneys during the mediation session. It also works well for those who reach an impasse during traditional representation and wish to try mediation with attorneys before going to court.
Collaborative Practice is a way to resolve disputes between people in a fair, open and respectful manner. In Collaborative Practice, the goal is to reach a mutually acceptable settlement of a dispute. The parties retain Collaborative Professionals such as attorneys, accountants, financial planners, and therapists, who agree to work in good faith to gather and share all information needed to reach an agreement. The parties and their Collaborative Attorneys agree that they will not go to court to ask a judge to resolve their dispute for them during the collaborative process. If they are unable to reach an agreement, and one of the parties decides to go to court, the Collaborative Professionals withdraw. Litigation attorneys and forensic experts are then retained to take the dispute to court.
Each party retains an attorney who assists him or her in obtaining a legal judgment, including going to court, if necessary. The litigation attorney’s role is to gather information, if necessary through formal discovery methods. Then, the attorney will prepare the best possible presentation of the client’s position. The attorney will work towards a settlement, and if needed, advocate the client’s position in court.
Litigation is necessary in cases where one party is unwilling to share information or actively hides it, or when a settlement can’t be reached through other means.
Neutral Case Evaluation
Facts and legal issues are presented by the attorneys to a neutral case evaluator. Usually, both parties are present. The evaluator gives an opinion regarding the legal and factual merits of each side’s case and the probable outcome if the case were to go to trial. This can help the parties decide whether they want to spend the time, money and emotions involved in going to trial.
An attorney is retained by the litigating parties to work as a neutral manager handling various aspects of the case, including information gathering, discovery disputes, temporary orders, and other preliminary matters. Case management can be combined with mediation and private judging. Case management can save the time and expense associated with going to court to resolve pre-trial issues.
The parties retain an experienced private attorney to take the place of the Superior Court judge in deciding some or all of the issues in the case. The parties and judge determine a mutually convenient time for hearing or trial. The hearing or trial is typically held in the confidential office of the private judge. The parties and attorneys determine the level of formality for the rules and procedure. This can also avoid the time sometimes spent waiting for a trial on the courts’ busy calendar.