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Survey Says Corporate Counsel Prefer Mediation (NLJ)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Sheri Qualters

Corporate counsel and their law firm attorneys favor mediation over arbitration when resolving complex business disputes outside of court, according to a new survey by the International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution.

The survey of 126 corporate counsel and their law firms showed that both types of lawyers preferred mediation, which is a facilitated, non-binding negotiation, for its cost savings and speed. Arbitration is a binding or nonbinding dispute resolution process that involves a neutral third party that hears evidence and makes a decision or award.

When they didn't choose mediation, corporate counsel said likely factors are the time involved and the possibility of disclosing the company's strategy. Law firm attorneys said reasons not to choose mediation in some cases include the possibility of disclosing strategy and a reluctance to convey weakness.

For arbitration, both corporate counsel and law firm lawyers liked the finality and confidentiality, but both harbored reservations about the quality of the results and the potential for challenges.

"With approximately 98% of cases settled before trial, it is evident that corporate counsel understands the value of the ADR tools available to them," said the institute's CEO Kathleen A. Bryan. "More importantly, they actually use them."

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