Thirty Steps To a Better Arbitration - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 59, No. 3
Attorney Michael J. Bayard is a full-time construction arbitrator, mediator and project neutral. He chairs the AAA's Construction Advisory Subcommittee for the Los Angeles Region and teaches a graduate course in construction management at the University of Southern California, where he is an adjunct professor. He was recently named to the AAA’s National Construction Master Arbitrator Roster. Mr. Bayard may be reached toll free at (800) 652-2927 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Judith Ittig practices law in Washington, D.C. She is also an arbitrator and mediator, serving on the AAA’s panels for construction, commercial and international cases, as well as the large, complex case panel. She was recently named to the AAA’s National Construction Master Arbitrator Roster. Mrs. Ittig has been on the AAA’s arbitrator training faculty since 1996, and she helped develop the 2-day advanced arbitrator training course. Her e-mail address is USBuildlaw@aol.com.
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
Our skills as arbitrators improve with every arbitration we hear. Each case brings unique situations, unusual requests for relief, scheduling problems, different approaches to the presentation of evidence,and new award-writing challenges. We learn from the process, from the parties in each case, and from our fellow arbitrators. What follows are our top 30 tips, which you cannot find in any arbitration rules, since they are gleaned from actual cases we have heard and those our colleagues have told us about. We thought other arbitrators might find them worth adopting, or adapting, in future arbitrations.
BEFORE THE FIRST PRELIMINARY CONFERENCE
1. ONE READING OF THE PLEADINGS IS NOT ENOUGH.
Reread the demand, answering statements and counter-demand. Then diagram them, including the names of the parties and their counsel, and the parties’ claims and defenses. When you have finished the diagram, ask yourself: “Can I describe in my own words (in less than one minute) who the parties are and the relief they are seeking?” We remember a case where an arbitrator continually mistook the subcontractor for the supplier and another where the arbitrator consistently referred to the subcontractor as the contractor. These mistakes undermined the authority of the arbitrator with all of the attorneys.