Even if most court cases are settled before, during, or after trial, alternate dispute resolution (ADR) can be a faster and less expensive means of reaching a settlement. ADR has been used in construction contract disputes, labor-management disagreements, international commerce, insurance claims, and securities cases. Parties involved in dispute or negotiation may be referred to a neutral third party by a court. One or both parties may use the assistance of an ADR organization. The organization will also help the parties in choosing an ADR procedure according to the nature of the dispute. The neutral party may be an ex judge, attorney, or other expert.

The main ADR procedures are as follows:

  • Arbitration: The third party hears both sides and gives a specific decision, which is either binding or non-binding (decided in advance).
  • Mediation: The third party negotiates a voluntary, non-binding settlement between the two parties.
  • Mini-trial: The two parties each have an attorney make a brief presentation of their cases to a panel of representatives from each side of the dispute with a neutral third party. The neutral party then mediates a non-binding settlement.
  • Summary jury trial: Similar to a standard jury trial, except the jury delivers a non-binding verdict, and the attorneys can question the jurors after the trial and use their findings in their settlement negotiations.

Two organizations that have offices throughout the United States are:

American Arbitration Association
140 W. 51st Street
New York, NY 10020
(212) 484-4000


Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services
345 Park Avenue, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10154
(212) 751-2700.