Prior to March, 2020, most of us had never heard of Zoom. Most of us had never teleworked or did so infrequently. And, in the blissful way-before times, a Corona was just a beer. Similarly, when it came to litigation, many gave little credence to alternative dispute resolution. Though, in 2021, it may start to become, not just mainstream, but also the preferred method of conflict resolution.

Slow technology progression for the law

The legal profession is seldom on the cutting edge of technology. After all, what other profession is still so obsessed with Latin, a dead language, that it permeates the profession? However, with the struggles of last year, more and more courts, lawyers and clients have migrated to teleconferencing. Indeed, last year forced us all to rethink how to practice law.

Litigation crunch

Since most courts shut down for several months last year and many put litigation on hold, it is expected that lawsuits will significantly rise over the next six to 10 months, especially with the added factors of an economic crunch, insurance disputes, landlord-tenant battles, etc. With this litigation crunch, and the accompanying long wait times and delays, many, if not most, will elect to use some other version of alternative dispute resolution.

Alternative dispute resolution options

Of course, pre-suit negotiations and mediation will become the norm, as was the trend in federal lawsuits prior to last year. But, for those needing to settle a dispute with finality, arbitration will likely become the new, preferred, forum. This will mean that most agreements at both the consumer and business-to-business level will include some sort of arbitration agreement, wherein the parties agree to arbitrate, rather than litigate.

Advantages to arbitration

Cost and finality are often the two most cited advantages of arbitration. Most arbitration findings cannot be appealed, so the costs associated with multiple levels of appeals are immediately erased in arbitration. This means paying a lawyer for their time and work ends when the arbitration ends. Though, another key advantage is having a subject matter expert making the final decision. Judges at the federal and state level are generalists. But, since the parties in an arbitration choose their “judge,” they can choose a subject matter expert, which can make the process much easier, less time consuming and, of course, cheaper. This is why those in Portland, Oregon, seeking resolution should contact an attorney immediately to start this process.