Our Courts Ourselves

How the Alternative Dispute Resolution Movement Is Reshaping Our Legal System

by Deborah R. Hensler

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Federal courts are now required by law to offer some form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), and many state courts require parties to attempt to resolve their cases through mediation before they can obtain a trial date. The author notes that there are reasons to believe that the ADR movement has had some success over the past 25 years in changing business and legal decisionmakers' views on how best to resolve legal disputes. In this article, the author presents a personal critical perspective on one part of the history of the dispute resolution movement in the United States — the evolution of ADR in the legal world. She presents historical antecedents, discusses the "community justice movement," the business community's joining of the ADR movement, and offers thoughts on the dispute resolution movement's contribution to changes in the view of the justice system.

Originally published in: Penn State Law Review, v. 108, no. 1, 2003, pp. 165-197.

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