The great success in the New York City Small Claims Court is due in large measure to its procedure for the voluntary arbitration of disputes. Each year, lawyer-arbitrators who serve pro bono publico dispose of a substantial percentage of the total claims filed in the court. These are men and women of outstanding legal ability and experience who work unselfishly in the public interest and who dispense justice with a high degree of skill, compassion, and sensitivity. Their accomplishments have served as an important guide for other arbitration and mediation programs, such as the highly acclaimed and successful Community Dispute Resolution Centers Program, as well as the Alternative Method of Dispute Resolution by Arbitration Procedure. Both of these programs have been devotedly championed by New York State's [former] Chief Judge Lawrence H. Cooke.
In New York, effective alternative dispute resolution procedures also exist outside the court system. The American Arbitration Association and the National Better Business Bureau have been in the forefront of the movement to encourage the widespread use of voluntary arbitration to resolve consumer disputes.