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Alternative Dispute Resolution, or Play The Odds?

As practitioners, we have an obligation to our clients to continually assess the strengths and weaknesses of our files as new facts are learned and the applicable law changes.  We must frequently ask ourselves, “what is the likelihood of success of my claims or my defenses?” 

During these case assessments, we may determine that a case is ripe for mediation.  Mediation is a non-binding method of alternative dispute resolution, or ADR.  While clients may naturally be focused on having their day in court, this means that they must put their case in the hands of a judge or jury to hear the evidence, apply the law, and make a determination on the merits.  That can be risky, as the smallest detail can significantly change the outcome of a case.  How badly does your client want to play the odds for his or her day in court?

Mediation can be a worthwhile investment, as it allows one or more experienced attorneys or former judges to weigh in and make recommendations to the parties, with a goal toward bringing the parties together in order to resolve cases.  While a mediator’s assessments are non-binding, they are useful to identify strengths and weaknesses in a case, to avoid unexpected outcomes, and help to reduce legal fees incurred taking cases to trial and/or appeal.

In a recent article in the New York Law Journal, entitled “Court System Officials Want to See More ADR in New York”, officials within the New York State Office of Court Administration made clear that the increased use of ADR in the courts will help move cases to resolution more quickly.  Reducing the court backlogs is a top priority of Chief Judge Janet DiFiore.  To that end, Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks announced that efforts will be made to expand ADR on the state Supreme Court, lower civil courts, Family Courts and Surrogates Courts.  An advisory committee has already been formed to implement this mandate.

PIB Law frequently recommends utilizing ADR when doing so is in the best interests of our clients.

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