Mitchell Sviridoff is a vice president of the Ford Foundation. The article was originally presented as a speech at the American Arbitration Association's Arbitration Day, a conference held in New York City on May 2, 1980.
The courts are ill-fitted to handle certain types of disputes: those between friends and families, between neighbors, between public interest and environmental groups and governmental agencies. A system that is adversarial in nature and that produces winners and losers is not suitable for those who must continue to live with one another once the dispute is over.
The author traces the recent experiences of nonjudicial programs in New York, Cincinnati, Chicago, and other places, and describes some cases that have benefited from the use of mediation and arbitration. He suggests that arbitration be employed in cases that must be disposed of quickly and inexpensively and that mediation be used where the parties seek the restoration of good relations.