One of the reasons for the growth in popularity of ADR in recent years is its "egalitarian" appeal. Yet, the issue remains as to whether ADR is an appropriate mechanism for handling racial disputes. It is often argued, says Sara Trenary, that "because racism is largely an unconscious process," the very foundations of ADR, i.e., its "egalitarian" and "neutral" elements, are put into question.
The legal field has witnessed many revolutions in the last two decades, but perhaps none as remarkable or ambitious as alternative dispute resolution. ADR methods—including bilateral negotiation, arbitration, mini-trials, private judging, and mediation—have been championed as faster, fairer, cheaper, and more accessible means of resolving disputes. These values are considered particularly helpful to the disempowered and the poor.1 Legal scholars have observed that ADR has its historical origin in the practices of various racial and ethnic minorities.2 In the wake of increasing dissatisfaction with traditional adjudication, the ADR movement has grown more popular and celebrated, at least in part for its egalitarian appeal.3 But critics have also voiced concerns that ADR can actually be harmful to minorities.