The author is an attorney at the Boston law firm of Berman De Valerio & Pease and a public arbitrator for the New York Stock Exchange, the National Association of Securities Dealers and the commercial panel of the AAA.
The current alternatives to litigation endorsed by the modern alternative dispute resolution (ADR) movement are not as trendy or new as the movement suggests. For a clearer understanding of present day popularity with ADR, it is helpful to consider the historical context which provided the framework for the success of non-adjudicative dispute resolution throughout early American life.
Three models of ADR emerged from colonial times: arbitration, mediation and group consensus. Each model had the common goal of keeping disputes out of the courts and the hands of lawyers. Modern ADR embraces many of the rationales and techniques practiced by the early American colonists in the 1600s. However, one significant difference today is the encroachment by the legal world on processes which originally and explicitly belonged to the people.