Legal Toolkit Michigan Alternative Dispute Resolution

What to Expect About Alternative Dispute Resolution

What to Expect About Alternative Dispute Resolution? 

ADR processes can take any number of forms and there is not a “one size fits all” process.  Certainly, one of the most popular forms of ADR is a process called Mediation (sometimes referred to as “Facilitation”).  When the parties mediate their dispute they will hire a third party, a Mediator, who serves all the parties in a neutral role. Often the Mediator is a specially trained attorney who has experience in litigating your type of dispute.  All of the Courts in Michigan maintain lists of specially trained Mediators (both lawyers and non-lawyers) who can be selected by you and your attorneys. 

The Mediator will often begin the mediation process by meeting with the parties and their attorneys to learn about the specifics of the dispute and will then explore process options with the participants.  The Mediator is not a judge and will not make rulings or impose any resolution.  Rather, based upon the Mediator’s specialized training and experience, the Mediator will encourage and foster communications between the parties and their attorneys and aid the parties in crafting a mutually satisfactory resolution that meets your interests and needs.  Mediation is successful more than 70% of the time in helping the parties reach a resolution of their dispute.

While Mediation is one very popular and well known form of ADR, there are many other forms of ADR that can be utilized to assist the parties in resolving their dispute.  The beauty of ADR techniques and processes is that they can be tailored and right sized to meet the particular needs of the Plaintiff and Defendant with the assistance of their attorneys.  These techniques include such processes as:  neutral fact finding; neutral evaluation; mediation-arbitration hybrids; arbitration and mini-trials.  As stated by the Hon. John C. Foster, the Chief Judge of the Macomb County Circuit Court:

… the ADR field is rich and diversified and all consumers of ADR practices, including the judiciary, may not have a full appreciation and understanding of all the ADR tools that are available and can be tailored to vastly different types of disputes….   In many regards, alternative dispute resolution may be a misnomer.  When individuals think of ADR the first thought and sometimes only thought that comes to mind is mediation.  While mediation is an extremely powerful tool, it is not the only ADR tool available to the judiciary and consumers to resolve disputes.  Perhaps “appropriate” might be a substitute for “alternative” as the ADR field continues to grow.  With this evolution in ADR, potential consumers of ADR would be well served by education and training on the various forms of “appropriate dispute resolution” mechanisms and new cutting edge, innovative and effective techniques that are available for consideration.