Although practitioners of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) have long emphasized the benefits of substituting problem-solving processes for adjudication, empirical studies indicate that ADR may not save litigation costs or time. Litigants may prefer ADR because they believe that it saves them money they would have had to spend if they went to trial; they may prefer mediation because of its process of conciliatory problem-solving or because they feel they it gives them their due as citizens. Lawyers may prefer mediation either for lawyerly reasons or because it brings a third person into the task of informing the client of a less-than-fully-satisfactory outcome. Measuring and understanding litigants' and lawyers' preferences for different forms of dispute resolution will require diverse research techniques and many studies. New research may indicate that the spread of ADR has more to do with the economics of legal practice than the ideology of transformation. Producing quantitative changes in legal dispute resolution may require more money, not less.
Originally published in: Dispute Resolution Magazine, v. 6, no. 1, Fall 1999, pp. 15-17.
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