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Dispute Resolution Overview

What Is Dispute Resolution?

Dispute resolution is a term that refers to a number of processes that can be used to resolve a conflict, dispute or claim. Dispute resolution may also be referred to as alternative dispute resolution, appropriate dispute resolution, or ADR for short.

Dispute resolution processes are alternatives to having a court (state or federal judge or jury) decide the dispute in a trial or other institutions decide the resolution of the case or contract. Dispute resolution processes can be used to resolve any type of dispute including family, neighborhood, employment, business, housing, personal injury, consumer, and environmental disputes.

In addition, the United States Federal Government utilizes dispute resolution processes to assist government employees and private citizens resolve complaints and disputes in many areas including workplace, employment, and contracting matters.

Why Use Dispute Resolution?

Dispute resolution processes have several advantages. For instance, many dispute resolution processes are cheaper and faster than the traditional legal process. Certain processes can provide the parties involved with greater participation in reaching a solution, as well as more control over the outcome of the dispute. In addition, dispute resolution processes are less formal and have more flexible rules than the trial court.

Do I Need an Attorney to Participate in Dispute Resolution?

In many processes, you are not required to have an attorney to participate. In cases where the court or judge has referred the case to a dispute resolution process, attorneys often participate. The role of an attorney in a dispute resolution process varies depending upon the nature of the dispute and the type of dispute resolution process. In many dispute resolution processes, attorneys accompany their clients and participate either as counselors or as advocates.

What Are the Different Types of Dispute Resolution Processes?

Dispute resolution takes a number of different forms. Here are brief descriptions of the most common dispute resolution processes.

Acknowledgement and Copyright

This information was made possible by the American Bar Association with the support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Association for Conflict Resolution. The information is a service of the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution.

The ABA hereby grants permission for copies of the materials herein to be made, in whole or in part, for classroom use in an institution of higher learning or for use by not-for-profit organizations, provided that the use is for informational, non-commercial purposes only and any copy of the materials or portion thereof acknowledges original publication by the ABA, including the title of the publication, the name of the author, and the legend "Reprinted by permission of the American Bar Association. All rights reserved." Requests to reproduce portions of this publication in any other manner should be sent to the Director, Copyrights & Contracts, American Bar Association.