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Alternate Dispute Resolution

William J. Scott, P.E.

Course Overview

Why even consider ADR when you have the good old civil court and jury system available to you? There are three good reasons. They are:

1. ADR will cost a fraction of the normal $50,000 to $200,000 or more legal cost grind of the majority of jury trials.
2. ADR will take less than a fraction (maybe as little as 6 months) of the normal 2 to 3 year grind of a jury trial.
3. You are able to remove the emotionalism of the jury system by choosing technically competent mediators or arbitrators. The outcome of a jury trial is a gamble when it comes to predictable results (e.g. Tobacco lawsuits and product liability lawsuits).

A little known fact is that less than 5% of the lawsuits filed ever makes it to trial. Yes, 5%. Some are dropped, some are settled along the way, and a larger percentage are settled the week before trail or settled on the courthouse steps. Settlement, late in the game, is after you have already spent 95% of your legal fees. Money that could have been used towards a settlement offer. Unfortunately, on the courthouse steps, that money is already sunk cost. The earlier you settle, the more legal cost you are able to avoid and there is more money available for settlement. This does not take into account the cost of the parties' internal time and expense, which can run as high as the legal cost. Time wasted that could be spent on more productive activities such as securing new business or executing existing business.

Everyone (individuals and corporations) should consider Alternate Dispute Resolution prior to running down to the courthouse to file a civil lawsuit. This course will fill you in on how ADR works, its advantages and its limitation so that you may make an informed decision about a lawsuit or ADR.

This course includes a multiple choice quiz at the end.

Intended Audience

This course is addressed to:

1. Engineers
2. Land Surveyors
3. Project Managers
4. VP of Operations
5. General Managers
6. Contract Administrators

Course Introduction

Each year thousands of disputes are settled by alternate dispute resolution procedures. This number has been increasing about 20% each year for the last 3 years.

An ADR (alternate dispute resolution) process is a private method by which disputes involving; individuals, companies, individuals and companies are resolved outside of the Federal or State court system through the intervention of third parties.

There are a number of institutions that administer ADR programs. Some are non-profit and have published rules. Others programs are private and may not have published rules. The most well known non-profit institution which administers alternate dispute resolution procedures in the U.S. is the American Arbitration Association (AAA). The AAA is referred to in this course many times regarding their rules, regulations and procedures. The AAA has given me permission to use their name, literature and quotes through out this course. The reason I use the references to the AAA is that I am the most familiar with them, their rules and their procedures. However, there are other similar organizations.

Negotiation, Mediation and Arbitration are the most widely used ADR processes. We will define, describe and discuss each of these processes.

Many State or Federal Courts will order mediation and/or non-binding arbitration prior to allowing a civil law suit to go to trial. Unless ordered by a State or Federal Court, alternate dispute resolution can only occur in one of two ways:

1. A contractual clause to submit any, all, or every type of disputes to the alternate dispute resolution process.
2. If lacking a contractual clause for alternate dispute resolution, the parties to the dispute may still agree to resolve their dispute via alternate dispute resolution procedures. However, it must be via mutual agreement.

Course Content

This course consists of the following five course modules.

Course Modules

Module #1: Introduction/Negotiation

Module #2: Mediation

Module #3: Arbitration

Module #4: ADR Clauses

Module #5: Recent Trends in ADR

The course content is in PDF format in each module. You need to open or download those documents to study this course.


Once you finish studying the above course content you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

Take a Quiz

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered professional engineer. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.