Find Lawyers in Nova Scotia, Canada for Alternative Dispute Resolution

Practice Area Overview

When people think of hiring a lawyer to resolve a dispute, they often have in mind that their problem will ultimately be resolved at a trial with a judge ruling in favour of one party and against another. This understanding, perhaps reinforced through television and movies, does not represent the reality. In fact, most lawsuits settle.

For the longest time, it was not uncommon for parties to go through all the steps of litigation, from pleadings through documentary and oral discovery, only to settle, sometimes “on the courtroom steps.” Bearing this pattern in mind, many litigants have opted to pursue Alternative Dispute Resolution, or ADR, as means of achieving settlement sooner and cheaper than by going through the court process.

In this context, the parties in dispute enlist independent, unaffiliated persons to assist them to reach a resolution. This may be achieved through two different paths. Arbitration proceedings are generally adversarial in nature and the arbitrator makes a final decision, just as a judge does, but outside the court system. A private mediator assists the parties in reaching settlements through consensus and does not impose a decision.

Lawyers play an important role in ADR. They may be the decision makers in arbitrations or function as facilitators in mediations. In either case, they may have specialized knowledge in the area of law under consideration or in the industry in which the dispute arose. Sometimes, lawyers are chosen as arbitrators or mediators because of their reputations as having the ability to be fair-minded and even-handed.

Not to be overlooked is the special role the lawyers for the parties can play in ADR. It is often they who suggest alternative means of resolving disputes to their clients. They play a huge role in explaining the process to their clients beforehand, and otherwise preparing the parties. In the case of mediation, the parties should ensure their lawyers have the right experience to assist them in getting to settlement. Parties sometimes will hire experienced lawyers to act as “settlement counsel” to assist them in getting to a resolution in mediation.

Steven Z. Raber Fillmore Riley
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Related Practice Areas: Bet-the-Company Litigation
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