Anthony Palazzo is an in-house litigation counsel for a private company in Durham, NC and regular contributor to the New Jersey Law Journal.
On May 20, Palazzo wrote about the evolution of the lawyers’ place in society and the current effect on arbitration, saying:
Perhaps more than any other professionals, attorneys have seen their place in society transformed throughout history. Initially a revered profession, the law is now in dire need of dramatic underlying redirection.
He writes that many practicing attorneys see Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as an increasing threat to their livelihood. However, lawyers should view arbitration as a new opportunity, “a function of modern business.”
Advantages: Arbitration can be faster and simpler than litigation. Further, it commonly avoids the hostility seen in courtroom disputes, perhaps because it’s a private proceeding versus the public drama of the courtroom. Finally, if the subject of the dispute is technical—for example, about a patent—the parties can select an arbitrator who has technical knowledge in that field, rather than a judge who may not be familiar with the issues.
Disadvantages: Unlike a court ruling, a binding arbitration ruling can’t be appealed. It can be set aside only if a party can prove that the arbitrator was biased or that the arbitrator’s decision violated public policy. Unlike a court case, there is no automatic right to discovery. A requirement for discovery in an arbitration clause is, of course, acceptable but is perhaps the most important aspect of the dispute and is considerably difficult to coordinate.
Palazzo cites Arbitration Resolution Services, Inc. as being a company on the forefront of this revolution in legal practices.
Thomas P. Weber, president and CEO of Arbitration Resolution Services Inc. of Coral Springs, Fla., has brought arbitration to the 21st century utilizing online “cloud computing technology.” Now the entire legal process need not leave the office. Attorneys have weathered varying degrees of attitude from our fellow citizens, however, never before has there been such a potential dramatic societal change, where the core of their profession was at risk.
He concludes the article advising, “Attorneys are well positioned to bring ADR into the fold as an additional business line to save a storied profession. Failure to get on board may result in attorneys becoming the ice delivery men of the new millennium.”