Alternative Dispute Resolution Team

Welcome to the official website of the William & Mary Law School Alternative Dispute Resolution Team!

"Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser -- in fees, expenses and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough." -- Abraham Lincoln, “Notes for a Law Lecture,” 1850

ADR techniques are increasingly being used more frequently as parties, lawyers, and courts have realized that they help resolve legal disputes more quickly, cheaply and privately than conventional litigation. Moreover, many people prefer ADR approaches because these methods are more creative and more focused on problem solving than litigation, which has always been based on an adversarial model.

The term "alternative dispute resolution" is to some degree a misnomer. In reality, fewer than 5 percent of all lawsuits filed go to trial; the other 95 percent are settled or otherwise concluded before trial. Thus, it is more accurate to think of litigation as the alternative, and ADR as the norm. Despite this fact, the term alternative dispute resolution has become such a well-accepted shorthand for the vast array of nonlitigation processes that its continued use seems assured.

Although certain ADR techniques are well established and frequently used—for example, mediation and arbitration—alternative dispute resolution has no fixed definition. It includes a wide range of processes, many with little in common except that each is an alternative to full-blown litigation. Litigants, lawyers, and judges are constantly adapting existing ADR processes or devising new ones to meet the unique needs of their legal disputes. The definition of alternative dispute resolution is constantly expanding to include new techniques.

The goal of the ADR Team is to offer the forum— through training, competitions, and classes—where these much needed skills will be cultivated, to better prepare you for aiding your clients.