No experienced arbitration advocate doubts the necessity of thorough preparation. But how to organize one’s efforts to maximize the time and resources devoted to preparing the case is not intuitive. In this two-part article, the authors offer their suggestions on how a party or her advocate can develop their preparation game plan. Part one deals with developing an investigation checklist, organizing and reviewing documents and contract clauses and analyzing prior grievances and arbitration awards.
Thorough preparation is essential to successful arbitration advocacy. No amount of genius, cleverness, or cunning can substitute for preparation. Preparation includes acquiring and mastering the facts upon which claims and defenses are based. Preparation requires a thorough investigation of the facts and legal authority. It also requires development of theories of the case, tested against the facts, and refined until everything about the case fits together in a logical manner.
You should make a complete investigation as though you are preparing to represent both sides for arbitration. Such an investigation requires ingenuity, imagination, and hard work. It is essential to be skeptical of the entire story until it is corroborated by credible facts, circumstances and supporting documents. You should interview each person who has knowledge of the event. The substance of each interview should be documented.