Avoid Courtrooms with Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods

Legal complications can arise for any business owner; even those who take reasonable precautions to avoid them. Owners may face contract disputes, allegations of employee rights’ violations, and complications arising from complex business transactions.

While these matters can all require legally-sound solutions, they need not all go to court for resolution. There are numerous alternative dispute resolution methods, a few of which we describe below. With ADR, business owners can avoid the courtroom and minimize the time and money that litigation can demand.


When a dispute or complication is minor, negotiating a fair resolution directly may be appropriate. This can be the easiest, fastest option.

However, parties must be sure to put the resulting agreement into a valid, signed agreement. Negotiating an outcome can ultimately be ineffective if there is no way to enforce the terms and conditions to which parties agreed.


Mediation is a cooperative process involving a neutral mediator. The two parties work together to identify a solution. In many cases, participation is voluntary, though a court or contract may order mediation.

The mediator serves as a facilitator of communication, ensuring that parties communicate respectfully and fairly. They help participants reach agreements together, though they typically do not give any legal advice.


Arbitration also involves a neutral third party, called the arbitrator (or panel of arbitrators). During arbitration, each party presents their arguments and evidence to the arbitrator. The arbitrator will then make a binding or non-binding decision.

This process is similar to litigation. However, it is private, typically faster, and parties have more control over selecting the decision maker.

Is ADR always the best option?

These measures – along with less familiar options like conciliation and case evaluation – can be effective and help parties avoid the time, expense and resources associated with a traditional trial.

That said, there are cases that are too contentious or complex for ADR to be successful. Under these circumstances, litigation can be necessary.

Because of all the methods that are available, it is important for business owners to consider and understand all the options before making any assumptions or assurances.

The experienced attorneys in our Litigation Practice Group are committed to providing our clients with powerful and successful representation before the Courts and tribunals of the Commonwealth including the Superior, District, and Probate Courts, the Appeals Court and the Supreme Judicial Court; and at the federal level including the United States District Court, United States Court of Appeals, and the United States Bankruptcy Court. Our Litigation attorneys are some of the most accomplished in New England and include counsel honored as Fellows of the Litigation Counsel of America, a distinction awarded to less than one-half of 1% of American Lawyers, as well as both SuperLawyers and Top Attorneys recognition.

Though skilled trial lawyers, we are flexible enough to also resolve each client’s unique matters through, where appropriate, Alternative Dispute Resolution methods like mediation, arbitration, and negotiation. We represent clients in administrative hearings, regulatory proceedings, as well as specialized tribunals such as tax and bankruptcy Courts. We also regularly advise and represent national corporations as local counsel in trials with Massachusetts venues.

Attorneys from other practices within the firm are consulted, when necessary, regarding specific issues with which they have experience, such as tax and securities matters or environmental and land use issues. Over the years, our litigation attorneys have developed relationships with outside experts in positions to add depth and perspective to our legal services.


Howard Stempler