Alternative Dispute Resolution

Although it seems like everyone is filing lawsuits these days, they are usually a last resort for many people. Litigation in court can be very costly and it can take months or even years to reach a resolution. As a result, many people attempt to settle their dispute outside of court before resorting to filing a lawsuit. When two or more parties choose to try to resolve their dispute by means other than going to court, it is known as an alternative dispute resolution. There are certain main types of alternative dispute resolutions, with which our Chicago alternative dispute resolution lawyers are familiar.

The first tactic that parties might want to try to settle a dispute is settlement negotiation. This is when one party contacts another party to try to work out a resolution between themselves. This gives the parties the most amount of control over the resolution.

Sometimes parties can enter into a settlement conference even after a lawsuit has already been filed, if the court permits. A settlement conference is similar to settlement negotiation with the main difference being that a third party acts as a mediator between the two parties to help them come to an agreement. This third party can be a judge or someone from outside the court system, such as a professional mediator or an expert in some field related to the dispute.

Some courts, at the very beginning of litigation, will require the parties to meet with a judge or an expert who can provide neutral feedback regarding the dispute, identify the strengths and weaknesses of each party's position and arguments, evaluate each party's likelihood of success, and help them to reach a settlement before proceeding with the lawsuit. This process is known as early neutral evaluation. Our alternative dispute resolution attorneys can help Chicago clients navigate it if needed.

If one or all of these methods fail, the parties can choose to resort to formal mediation. In this type of dispute resolution, a neutral third party (known as the "mediator") does not have a part in making a decision about the resolution. Instead, the mediator's role is to guide the negotiations and help them arrive at a resolution which satisfies both parties. The mediator could be a professional mediator with training in mediation techniques and procedures, an attorney, a retired judge, or a professional in an area related to the dispute.

In some cases, disputing parties will agree to arbitration because it is faster, easier, and less expensive than pursuing litigation in the courts. Other times, the parties might be forced to enter into arbitration as a result of a contract between them which contains an "arbitration clause," or a court might order the case into arbitration. For example, the Circuit Court of Cook County has a mandatory arbitration program for certain types of small civil cases in order to resolve disputes in a more efficient way. In arbitration, a third party (the "arbitrator") acts as a private judge and makes the decision about the resolution of the dispute.

Arbitration can be either "binding" or "nonbinding." In binding arbitration, the parties agree to accept the arbitrator's decision, whatever it may be. In nonbinding arbitration, if one party is not satisfied with the result, that party can request a trial.

The Chicago alternative dispute resolution attorneys at DiTommaso Lubin Austermuehle have decades of experience mediating disputes outside of court. We are dedicated to bringing disputes to a peaceful resolution that is satisfactory to both parties. With offices conveniently located in Oakbrook Terrace and Chicago, Illinois, we have represented clients all over the country. To consult with a knowledgeable alternative dispute resolution lawyer in the Chicago area today, you can contact us online or call us at 877-990-4990.