Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) should significantly reduce the cost and time of handling intercorporate disputes, leaving the parties with minimum scars from the encounter. Active involvement in the process of senior management is essential.
This article discusses the general counsel's role in resolving corporate disputes. Cost effectiveness and the climate for ADR are explored, and examples of ADR in action are given.
Corporate counsel—and this applies equally to "in-house" counsel in government agencies, universities, or other large organizations—are in a unique position. On the one hand, they have the legal training and background to communicate effectively with outside or trial counsel. On the other, they have, to varying degrees, familiarity with the organization, including knowledge about its unique culture and where power lies. They are also aware of various considerations other than just the merits of a particular dispute that are relevant to its ultimate resolution. Furthermore, experienced corporate counsel have generally dealt with other corporate counsel and they may well provide an effective channel of communication across the dispute, particularly If there has been a long-standing business relationship between the parties.