Med-Arb Provides Hybrid Process As Another Option In ADR
If you are looking for a unique opportunity to negotiate your dispute and obtain finality at the same time, med-arb may be just what you are looking for. Med-arb is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) where the parties work with a mediator to resolve their dispute. If the mediation doesn’t settle the disagreement, the process morphs into arbitration with the same neutral then serving as the arbitrator. This combination of mediation and arbitration gives people the best of both types of ADR options.
The Best Of Both Worlds
While not as common as many other forms of ADR, med-arb has many advantages:
Saves time and expense of litigation— Sometimes, two sides of an argument are so far apart that they can’t come to an agreement on their own. Additionally, one side of the dispute may be too inflexible to ever find common ground. This is when med-arb makes sense.
Saves time and frustration of retelling your story from the beginning— Combining the process means you work with only one person as mediator and arbitrator. This means you won’t have to start all over in retelling your story from the beginning to someone new if mediation fails. This can be a huge savings in time and frustration you may encounter in repeating the facts and your story to a judge or jury who have not been with you from the beginning of the dispute.
Knowledge at the outset of an end in sight— With med-arb, each party knows that, one way or another, this dispute will soon be resolved, and they can all move on with their lives. This is because the final decision by the arbitrator, if necessary, will be binding.
Clearer objectives if arbitration procedures are needed — When med-arb is used, the parties often settle several, but not all, parts of their dispute during the mediation portion of the process. This helps reduce the scope of the arbitration process because instead of having, for example, 10 disputed items to work through, the parties may only have four items left once they move on to the arbitration process.
Med-Arb Proven More Effective Than Other ADR
Interestingly, social science research has shown that when parties use med-arb, there was a higher percentage that reached an agreement during the mediation phase of the proceedings as compared to parties who just employed traditional mediation to the dispute.
One reason for this success could be that the parties involved know if mediation fails, the arbitrator will be the same person who had acted as their mediator. Knowing this, any resolution suggestions presented by the mediator during the mediation may be given more weight by each party because it may hint as to how the person may rule as the arbitrator.
An Early Adopter And Effective ADR Professional
I, attorney Mark Frankel, was one of the early adopters of med-arb procedures in Wisconsin. I am also one of the most experienced retired judges in the state performing ADR today.
In addition to being an ADR lawyer in Madison, I was one of the youngest judges in Wisconsin history to be elected to the Dane County Circuit Court. I served on the court for 20 years. I am now a retired judge and continue to serve the state of Wisconsin as a reserve judge.
I have written extensively on the topics of ADR and med-arb, and I am an author of the Wisconsin Benchbook, a desktop reference guide for judges.