Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) has grown over the last few decades as an alternative to litigation. It can be less expensive and quicker than the traditional litigation route in court. ADR consists of either arbitration or mediation.
Arbitration is a method involving an arbitrator, sometimes a retired judge, who will hear a case, much like in court, and will render a decision. The court rules are usually relaxed, and the matter is heard and concluded much earlier than a court calendar can allow. The decision can be binding, and even filed in a court as a judgment enforceable by the parties.
Mediation is much different, and is more common. This method of dispute resolution is heard by a mediator who is trained to help the parties resolve their disputes. A mediator cannot, and will not, make a decision. He or she will, however, help the parties to come to an agreement. If an agreement is reached, it will be written down and signed by the parties. The agreement can be enforced in court if necessary. Mediation is thought to be the best method, as it may preserve relationships between family, friends, business partners and others who will need to work together after the dispute is resolved.
It is the distinguishing philosophy of Shanahan & Voigt, LLC that litigation, while sometimes necessary, should be avoided. Not only is it costly, time consuming and stressful, it has a serious destructive impact on families, partners and businesses. To this end, Bob Shanahan and Nicole Voigt have invested significant time in training and volunteering as mediators and arbitrators over the years.
Our attorneys have been state-trained municipal court mediators, assisting the courts in settling disputes between neighbors and others; a special arbitrator helping to resolve disputes between a major New Jersey insurer and its customers; volunteer mediators helping to assist the State Courts in resolving small civil cases and landlord-tenant matters. Significantly, both Bob and Nicole have completed the thirty-two hour civil mediation training by the New Jersey association of Professional Mediators.
The firm is leader in attempting to move Collaborative Law, largely used in divorce cases, into matters involving the elderly, probate law, and business divorces, frequently contentious areas, so that they can be resolved without litigation, thus preserving family relations, while resolving the important issues of care and finances. Bob is a frequent speaker on this issue before attorney groups, and those interested in elder law issues. We worked with fellow members of the County Bar to provide training in Collaborative Law in the spring of 2015.