If you want someone to listen and understand your reasoning, give your interests and reasoning first and your conclusions or proposals later.
— Roger Fischer, Author of Getting to Yes

What is ADR-Alternative Dispute Resolution? 

ADR is an alternative to filing a lawsuit in a court of law and is often a more collaberative way to solve issues among the parties involved.  ADR consists of arbitration, negotiation, and mediation. Arbitration is when an impartial third party, the "Arbitrator" is given the power to make a binding decision upon the parties after hearing a case. Arbitration agreements are typically filed in court and often serve as the on file court judgment itself. Negotiation can occur in various stages of business from deal making to contract planning and drafting, to coming up with creative solutions to problems that arise. Mediation is similar to arbitration in that an impartial third party, the "Mediator" listens to the case and discusses it with the parties. However, the parties not the mediator have the final say regarding the terms of their agreement. Mediation agreements can cover standard damages but there is room for all sorts of creative terms (an apology letter, a payment plan, various other actions the parties agree to, etc.).

 Rational Unicorn Legal Services offers negotiation and mediation, but not arbitration. 

Business and Contract Negotiations

Negotiations can occur prior to the contract process, during, or after. A negotiation is a give-and-take discussion that attempts to reach an agreement or settle a dispute.  -Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary. Having an attorney help prior to or during business and contract negotiations can help to ensure your interests are both considered and met. Moreover, it can help determining what exact contractual terms may be necessary to match these interests. 


Attorney as Impartial Mediator in a Mediation

In this role, the attorney will serve as the mediator in an impartial role. Meaning, even though one party may have hired or suggested this mediator, the mediator is not 'on a side' of one party or another. 

Attorney as Client Representative in a Mediation

In this role, an outside mediator that both parties have agreed upon is present during the mediation. One or both parties can have attorney representation during the mediation. Here, the attorney would be on the side of the client who has hired him. 

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Conflict Resolution Seminars

Businesses have conflict. This is the nature of human nature but also the nature of a fast pace world with multiple opinions and cooks in the kitchen (figuratively or literally). An attorney can discuss your situation and gather any necessary materials or documents and then come to your workplace to talk about conflict, how to minimize it, legal consequences if it escalates, and forward moving techniques that will aid in problem solving. The attorney can speak in a small management and owner meeting or to all staff, giving heed to unique nature the situation and the audience. Anonymity and respect for the specific employee regarding the conflict are also kept in mind.  

Anti-Bullying Presentations 

Anti-bullying was needed years ago prior to social media. With an influx of social media, it has escalated. While some say bullying leads to character or that 'kids will be kids' there is a point or line where this behavior becomes dangerous, even deadly. Putting on an anti-bullying presentation (or team-building exercise that focuses on conflict resolution), often teaches children other options they may not know. By not just learning new conflict resolution methods in theory but practicing them during a group event deemed as a 'safe space', children learn the power of their actions and that in life their are choices in how we deal with relationships. 

Community Benefit Agreements

A community benefit agreement is often the solution to several months and sometimes years of conflict. As an example, take an Home Owners Association who wants to put speed bumps in, a resident who says they will do everything to stop this until mph and stop signs are also put up, and another resident who thinks the money for the bumps and signs should go to a new playground (the current one is dilapidated). An attorney can meet with each party and assess their interests, facilitate a meeting (or as many as needed), and then draft a community benefit agreement or a change to the HOA's CC&R's (Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions) that won't be met with the same opposition had the process not occurred. 

Another example is a real estate developer who wants to build a condo building in an area where people bird watch. As you can imagine, a shortage in housing, a desire to protect the birds, the hobby of bird watching, and the building development business component are all at play. A community benefit agreement could occur prior to the real estate development. This would help the real estate developer know the concerns of the community but also ease the concerns of the bird watchers and bird lovers as they could contribute ideas on how to keep these birds safe and appreciated during and after development.