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What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?
“Alternative” dispute resolution (ADR) refers to the different procedures used to resolve disputes outside of trial. These procedures include but are not limited to negotiation, mediation, arbitration, ombudspersons, and online dispute resolution. Many of these procedures—but not all of them--involve a neutral third party who assists the parties to resolve their dispute. The neutral third party may facilitate the parties’ communications and negotiations, ask questions to surface important underlying issues, work with the parties assess their cases’ strengths and weaknesses, suggest solutions, or even adjudicate. The neutral third party’s role depends upon the procedure being used.
Today, the vast majority of legal disputes are resolved outside the courtroom. It is actually the jury trial that is among the most “alternative” of dispute resolution procedures. Another small percentage go to trial before a judge (“bench trial”). Many of the remaining cases settle, usually through negotiation or another ADR procedure.
This research guide provides an introduction to some important sources of ADR materials and information. It is not intended as an exhaustive list of ADR materials available. You may also search the Law Library catalog for additional ADR resources.