A quick scan of the business and legal press reveals that, compared with a few years ago, many more disputes are being resolved through negotiation, mediation, and arbitration. The change is an incremental one, on the upper end driven by costly, difficult cases involving business risks that have called for the innovative handling of dispute resolution processes, and on the everyday level driven by the need for lower-cost, streamlined ways to handle growing numbers of ordinary disputes. Policy makers at all levels of government have encouraged this trend. Accompanying this public policy movement, increasing numbers of law firms and corporate legal departments are establishing alternative dispute resolution (ADR) practice sections, acquiring expertise or hiring experts in dispute resolution.
Many corporations are encouraging the use of ADR not only where it has traditionally been used but also to solve an ever-widening range of conflicts between the corporation and other businesses, individuals, and government agencies. In each of these relationships, it appears that the overwhelming costs of litigation have pushed corporations toward increasing their use of ADR processes. This growing trend and the widespread need for information about appropriate means of resolving corporate disputes motivated us to conduct the survey reported on here.