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Alternative Dispute Resolution or "ADR" service is a field of expertise that has developed within the legal community over the last twenty years to provide individuals and businesses with a more efficient and usually less costly way to settle disagreements than pursuing or defending a traditional lawsuit in court. It consists generally of two procedures, mediation and/or arbitration. Both of these procedures tend to be less time consuming than traditional litigation. Either proceeding can be selected individually or both can be used in tandom due to the inherent flexibility of the ADR process.

Mediation is a negotiation process in which the parties and their attorneys are assisted by a neutral Mediator whose fee is usually split evenly between the parties and who attempts to help the parties find some common ground on which their dispute can be settled. The neutral Mediator may make proposals and recommendations to both sides but he or she will leave the ultimate decisions to the parties themselves.

In addition to the general advantages of ADR discussed above, mediation gives the parties themselves the collaborative power to control the outcome of their matter. This approach, when most successful, can result in a win/win result for both sides.

In Arbitration, on the other hand, the parties turn over the decision making power to the neutral Arbitrator who acts in much the same way that a judge would in a court trial. Due to the informality and relaxed rules of evidence, however, an Arbitration can normally be conducted in far less time than a comparable trial. This often results in a savings of money as well as time even after you factor in the Arbitrator’s fee, which is usually split equally between the parties.

The primary advantage of either form of ADR is that it puts the parties themselves in control of the timetable for resolving their matter and avoids the frustration and added expense that can result from a trial being "bumped" at the last minute due to over-crowded courtroom dockets. With ADR, the time you mutually select for your hearing is the time that your matter is heard. Additional savings can result from the relaxed evidence and procedural rules that are normally employed in ADR proceedings.

At Wheatley, Sopp, LLP our attorneys are skilled both in representing client's interests in mediations and/or arbitrations conducted by another neutral, and in acting as independent neutrals to preside over mediations and arbitrations themselves. Robert M. Wheatley has years of experience mediating and arbitrating business and real estate matters. Mr. Wheatley hs served as a Sacramento County Settlement Conference Judge Pro Team and on the Arbitration Panels for both Sacramento and El Dorado County Superior Courts.

Robert M. Wheatley

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