Arbitration is a process designed to bring closure to legal disputes. Parties present the issues to a neutral arbitrator who issues a binding decision. It is often an efficient and economical alternative to litigation, allowing parties to choose their decision maker, as well as the scheduling and location of the hearings. Arbitration is frequently built into contracts as a standard clause. Whether or not there is a contractual obligation, parties may choose to bring a matter to arbitration at any point in the litigation process, or even before filing suit. They may also agree to bring their dispute a different arbitrator or arbitration organization than is specified in their contract. Arbitration can be a good option for a variety of case types such as commercial, insurance, personal injury and other matters.
Advantages of Arbitration
Finality: Because the decision of the arbitrator is binding, and appeals to a court are quite limited — when the arbitration decision is rendered, the matter is usually over. This allows parties to get out from under the burden of a protracted dispute, putting a difficult chapter behind them and moving on.
Flexibility: TMG can design dispute resolution services tailored to the unique needs of the parties: for example, on some occasions it can be useful to combine the arbitration and mediation processes. For large, complex cases, TMG can provide one or more arbitrators to sit as part of a three-arbitrator panel either selected entirely from our own list of neutrals, or in collaboration with arbitrators from outside of The Mediation Group.
Control: Parties can select an arbitrator from TMG's panel based on areas of expertise, location, and availability. This affords the parties a measure of control not available to them if they opt to pursue their case in the court system.
Efficiency and Economy: Cases in arbitration generally resolve much more quickly than those in litigation. Additionally, costs of participating in an arbitration are usually significantly lower than those associated with trial.
TMG’s arbitrators are senior attorneys and retired judges who will provide parties with a fair, impartial hearing leading to a binding decision.
Fees for arbitration depend on the professional selected, the number of parties and other factors. Please give us a call — we would be happy to send you a detailed fee schedule or help you determine the costs that would apply to you.
Dispute System Assessment and Design
All organizations manage conflict, and most of the time these systems work well. However, these systems can be challenged in times of high stress, organizational change, or when the structure of an organization interferes with communication or coordination. In these situations, conflicts can multiply, escalate, expand, and efforts to address the conflict are ineffective. When conflict interferes with organizational functioning, The Mediation Group can provide two kinds of help.
Dispute System Assessment
We begin by understanding the nature of the problem. Are there identifiable moments in the year when conflict seems to get out of hand? When budgets are determined, for example, or when bonuses and raises are allocated, or when leadership is in transition? The tension in these moments is inevitable, but that tension can be part of a learning phase for the organization or it can be a cause of disruption and damaged relationships.
When we do an assessment, we use individual interviews, focus groups, survey instruments, and sometimes observation. We are looking for the ways in which conflict is currently managed, where those ways are not working, and what might change. The client receives a report that includes our diagnosis and recommendations for changes that will help. We can end there, and we also take the next step with some clients and design an effective system for resolving disputes.
Dispute System Design
Dispute system design is creating a process for resolving current and future conflicts in an organization. The process can be designed to be an integral part of the organization moving forward (such as a mediation program, ombudsman’s office, etc.) or it can be a temporary process designed to address a current question (see our work for PCORI). When designing processes we think about how what information flows to whom, who makes what decisions using which processes, how to support the voices of those not traditionally part of the process, and how the process will work within the constraints of the organization.
Examples of our work
The Mediation Group, in partnership with the Massachusetts Office of Dispute Resolution, designed and implemented mediation programs for the Massachusetts Superior Courts in Suffolk and Norfolk Counties as well as at the Middlesex Multi-Door Court House in Middlesex County. This was the first mediation program in the Massachusetts Superior Courts. Since then we have worked with Massachusetts Superior Courts, New Hampshire Court Mediation Programs, Israeli Trial Court ADR Program, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and Massachusetts Department of Highways.
In addition to our work with courts, The Mediation Group has also received grant funding to design processes. One grant was from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to design Dispute Resolution in Managed Care: A Modular Self Assessment Protocol, a tool for assessing conflict resolution systems in health plans. This work was done in partnership with New York University. Working with the University of Massachusetts Medical School on a grant from the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), we designed and facilitated two panels to create clinical practice guidelines for screening for prostate cancer and lung cancer.
During a special master hearing, a neutral third party assists with disputes that are legally or administratively complex. The Special Master assists in designing case settlement options and offers the court an efficient way to move cases forward that may otherwise become stuck in protracted litigation. While Masters are most often court-appointed, they may also be independently selected by the parties with the approval of the court.
Typically, the order from the appointing court specifically defines those issues to be assigned to the master. The designated master then has full authority to oversee those aspects of the litigation, including compelling document production, examining witnesses and issuing rulings as needed. After all evidence has been taken, the master then files with the court a report which may include both findings of fact and conclusions of law.
Several of TMG’s retired judges and senior attorney's are available to serve as Masters on a variety of legal matters. Past cases have dealt with complex commercial, real estate, construction, probate and family matters.
Fees for special master services depend on the professional selected, the number of parties and other factors. Please give us a call — we would be happy to send you a detailed fee schedule or help you determine the costs that would apply to you.
Our Experts Specializing in Arbitration