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Arbitration & Mediation

Arbitration and mediation are the two most common types of Alternative Dispute Resolution. When time, money or privacy are a concern, arbitration and mediation offer clients other options.

Not all legal action is resolved in a courtroom setting. Arbitration provides an alternative to trial by having one or three persons hear each party's position and make a decision which is binding on the parties. The intent of this process is that it be more expeditious and less expensive than trial.

There are many cases, dependent on certain factors, where arbitration and mediation may minimize exposure and maximize the potential for future business.

Mediation affords privacy not available in litigation. There is no public filing and the mediation process is not open to the public. As a result, adverse publicity may be avoided. The parties agree at the beginning of their process that whatever is said in their mediation sessions will be kept confidential and will not be used in any litigation that might follow.

Unlike litigation, in which a judge or jury determines the outcome, the mediator has no authority to impose a settlement. Whether the parties settle is a decision that rests exclusively with them. This process also offers flexibility for parties to fashion a settlement that a judge or jury is not likely to be able to. For instance, taking into account the potential for future continued business, the consideration of tax ramifications, or other creative win-win solutions.

Since statistics show that 9 out of 10 cases to settle at some point, the question becomes when, not if, a case will settle. If settlement is reached early in the process as opposed to on the eve of a trial, valuable resources are saved. Parties who are interested in cooperative problem solving are rewarded by saving time, money, maintaining privacy and possibly preserving a relationship beneficial to them.

A settlement entered through mediation provides finality. Although most parties embroiled in litigation focus on trial as the end of their dispute, the reality is that trial may be followed by years of (lengthy and expensive) appeals or actions necessary to collect a judgment.

Contracts may provide for mediation as a required method of dispute resolution before arbitration or litigation.

Foster Swift has been named a Tier 1 firm in Arbitration and Mediation in Lansing and Grand Rapids by U.S. News – Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms" in 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and in Grand Rapids in 2021, 2023-2024.

In addition to representing clients in arbitration and mediation proceedings, several of our attorneys' credentials have been reviewed by the American Arbitration Association and are included on the list of neutrals for commercial construction and employment arbitration matters. Additionally, Fred Dilley is a certified mediator.

Dilley was recently interviewed by Michigan Lawyers Weekly about the rising trend of using virtual mediation during the COVID-19 pandemic. The article covers aspects of the available technology along with benefits and best practices. See full story here.

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