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Beyond courtroom drama: arbitration as a way to resolve disputes

Americans have long shown an affinity for courtroom dramas. From Perry Mason in the days of black-and-white television down through LA Law and beyond, the spectacle of dueling lawyers in the courtroom has a proven record for solid ratings.

The Boston area has certainly not been neglected in these offerings. In the 1990s, "The Practice" featured a fictional firm doing criminal defense work. And in the first decade of the 21st century, "Boston Legal" had a good run as well.

As entertaining as these shows are, however, they tend to give a skewed view of the legal profession. In reality, hard-core litigation is not always a necessary or even desirable way to obtain effective outcomes. As we will discuss in this post, arbitration is often a good way to resolve disputes.

To be sure, sometimes aggressive litigation is required to protect a client's rights. But in many cases, alternative dispute resolution techniques such as arbitration or mediation may be in order.

Arbitration can be used in several different fields of practice. These include:
• Business and commercial
• Construction
• Real estate
• Labor and employment

The American Arbitration Association has many resources available in all of these areas. For more information, click here.

In some industries, it is often standard practice for contracts to be written to require disputes to be settled by an arbitrator rather than through litigation.

When preparing your case for an arbitrator or an arbitration panel, it is important to marshal evidence. In that respect, the process can be compared to traditional litigation, although the evidentiary rules can be quite different.

It should also be noted that attorneys can take on the role of arbitrator (third-party neutral) and be effective in that role.

For information about our firm's practice in this area, please visit our page on arbitration.

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