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What Is Alternative Dispute Resolution? Why Shouldn’t I Just Sue?

If you think you have a potential lawsuit against someone, whether it’s a breach of contract, personal injury, or some other claim, you’ve likely learned that lawsuits are lengthy and cost a lot of money. An attorney might agree to work on contingency, or you may have a good argument for having the other party pay for your attorney’s fees, but a lawsuit will still take a lot of your valuable time. Thankfully, you have other options, including alternative dispute resolution.

Alternative dispute resolution refers to methods of resolving claims that you might already be familiar with, such as negotiation, mediation, and arbitration. All these options will likely save you money compared to a lawsuit. It is still best to hire an attorney, but, because the process is more streamlined, your attorney’s fees may be lower than litigating. An attorney can negotiate on your behalf. When tensions run high, an attorney can help calm things down and keep negotiations practical.

If negotiation does not work, your next step may be mediation or arbitration. One great thing about these options is that they are not public like court typically is. Mediation is like a conversation. The mediator, often an attorney experienced in the kind of claim you are bringing, will listen to both sides of the story and suggest a practical resolution that both parties can accept. Mediation is nonbinding, meaning that if the mediator recommends a resolution, you are free to decline and move onto your next step.


Arbitration, on the other hand, is typically a binding process. Arbitration is more formal than mediation. The American Arbitration Association, the nation’s leading arbitration non-profit, has rules that the parties may submit to, and which will govern the arbitration. Additionally, an arbitrator’s final judgment can usually be submitted to a court for approval. This has the same effect as going to trial and receiving a judgment. However, arbitration is typically faster than a lawsuit, and the decision usually cannot be appealed, meaning that you will not have to deal with a post-trial appeal if you win.

Alternative Dispute Resolution can save you time and money when compared to litigating. When considering whether or not to sue someone, ask your attorney about other options like mediation and arbitration. The important alternatives may be a better option than a lawsuit, and the benefits can be substantial.

Gehling Osborn Law Firm, PLC is experienced in alternative dispute resolution, including negotiations, mediations, and arbitrations. If you are considering a lawsuit, or if you are faced with one, contact Gehling Osborn for an attorney who will stand in your corner and help you select the best option.

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