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This article traces the development of empirical research on alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and its impact on the legal system. In the 1980s, legislators, judges, court administrators, and lawyers acted largely as interested onlookers in the research process. But, as the author notes, research on court ADR — especially with an evaluative component — has become unwelcome in some quarters. The author recalls RAND's report on the results of ADR under the controversial Civil Justice Reform Act of 1996 and the surprising level of criticism the study received from the ADR community. The author cites other examples of hostility regarding ADR research directed at the academic community at large, and notes that empirical research nevertheless continues apace. The author offers several explanations for the current attitudes on evaluative ADR research, and concludes by posing questions on the future of this research.

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