The author is a San Jose civil attorney working full-time as an ADR neutral. He is a member of the AAA arbitration and mediation panels in San Francisco. He is past president of the California Dispute Resolution Council and a member of the Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution and the Northern California Mediation Association.
If California is a microcosm of the broader ADR universe, acceptance of alternative means of dispute resolution will result in stricter scrutiny at the legislative level. California has seen the proposal of 74 bills dealing with the dispute resolution field in 1995, and an equal number in 1996. “Most of the bills sought to add arbitration and mediation options to a variety of dispute situations,” the author writes, “but several proposals which did not pass would have had immediate and far-reaching impact on the way neutrals do their work.” Such eagerness by state bodies to stir the ADR mix necessitates vigilance to ensure good intentions do not go awry.
No one questions that resolving conflicts by satisfying the interests of the parties is a good thing. But an emerging clear concern is the extent to which legislative bodies across the nation are attempting to “judicialize” the ADR process through scores of regulatory measures.