Affordable dispute resolution options for Oregon businesses

At some point during the lifetime of your business, you or someone you know will be involved in a legal dispute. If you are like most business owners, this can be a very stressful time, especially if it is the first time your company has faced litigation. Not only are lawsuits time-consuming and disruptive to your business operations, the financial toll can be devastating.

Fortunately, a skilled attorney can help you avoid disputes and guide you through any legal processes you face, handling the details so you can concentrate on your day-to-day duties at your place of business. Alternatively, your business lawyer can help you resolve the matter before you end up in court through an alternative dispute resolution process.

What is Appropriate Dispute Resolution?

In Oregon, individuals and businesses have alternative options for resolving legal disputes. The Oregon Judicial Department developed the Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR) program as a way to allow individuals and business entities in the state resolve their disputes peacefully and less expensively.

There are two primary ADR processes:

  • Mediation: Mediation is a voluntary process that allows parties to a dispute to have a hand in determining the outcome of their dispute confidentially and informally. A neutral person serves as the mediator; guiding the parties through discussions about their issues and helping them reach solutions on their own terms. A skilled mediator will often have ideas and tools for resolving seemingly impossible disputes. The parties often agree there is a need for a resolution, but simply lack the tools for creating a workable solution. A seasoned neutral will assist in the process.

The mediator does not make decisions, nor does he or she tell the parties what they should do. If the parties are unable to come to an agreement, they may pursue further legal action.

  • Arbitration: Arbitration is a faster, less expensive alternative to litigation. While the process is less formal and more flexible than going to court, it is similar to having a trial before a judge. However, rather than a jury or court trial, a neutral arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators listens to evidence presented by both sides - usually through their attorneys - and renders a decision. The discovery process in arbitration is often less onerous and allows for an expedited exchange of information.

Many business contracts contain arbitration clauses, which require the parties to arbitrate any disagreements that arise. Parties already involved in a lawsuit may also agree to have an arbitrator decide their case. Depending on the circumstances, this decision may be binding, precluding the parties from taking the dispute to court if they do not get the result they want.

Helping your business avoid disputes

Of course, avoiding disputes altogether is the preferred option for business owners. Whether you are looking for seasoned counsel to help you through the ADR process, or you are looking for a neutral, contact The Mead Law Firm P.C. in the Portland area. Our experienced trial attorneys provide skilled guidance and legal assistance to clients throughout the state on a wide variety of business law matters. Firm lawyers also perform mediations and arbitrations for those wishing to resolve their disputes outside of court.