July 30, 2015 Articles

Young Lawyers: Assessing the Strengths and Weaknesses of a Pending Arbitration

By P. Jean Baker

Arbitration has been described as old-time litigation on steroids—limited discovery, no depositions, few constrains on demonstratives, and decision makers who may or may not be attorneys. But arbitration is a wonderful dispute resolution mechanism provided you understand how it works. If you did not take an ADR course in law school, you will probably obtain your knowledge firsthand—namely by representing a client in a pending arbitration. That can be a scary proposition when the amount in controversy runs into the high six figures.

So how can a young lawyer safely learn the ins and outs of the arbitration process? The American Arbitration Association (AAA) has recently introduced a new online tool—CaseXplorer. A user selects a panel of three to five evaluative arbitrators. The selected arbitrators can have the same or different legal or professional backgrounds. The user presents his or her case online by means of written or video content. The user then asks each arbitrator to independently respond to questions drafted by the user that are designed to elicit perceptions and opinions regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the facts, the legal arguments, videotaped testimony, and the manner of the presentation.

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