Arbitration has been with us for a very long time. Arbitration was used as early as 1800 BC in the eastern Mediterranean, and the Greek philosopher Aristotle raved about his preference of arbitration over the courts. George Washington wrote arbitration into his Will. Abraham Lincoln perhaps said it best:
"Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often the real loser . . . in fees, expenses and waste of time."
Arbitration is not a panacea or solution to everyone and everything – no more that a full-blown jury trial in federal court is. But it can be a very effective and rewarding way to advocate in a more informal and generally more cost-effective environment than traditional courthouse litigation. It is still generally faster, more flexible and extremely efficient. Some very smart and experienced Arbitrators recently published a 4th edition book – the handbook on efficient and cost-effective arbitration. It is called the Guide to Best Practices in Commercial Arbitration. The attached article on the CCA Protocols summarizes some of the salient points from that treatise.
Presenting a case in arbitration differs in material respects from techniques learned in traditional courthouse litigation, so I have written an article highlighting the differences. I also can provide some Tips on how to present a complex case in arbitration.
My arbitration docket has taken me as far east as Mobile, Alabama, as far west as Tucson, Arizona and as far north as Dearborn, Michigan. Yet, many of my arbitrations still seem to be in Texas and adjoining states – and not only metropolitan areas of Texas but also smaller towns and rural areas. While I have some hearings set 10-12 months out (we try to avoid setting a case more than 240 days out), the flexibility of my practice has allowed me to set hearings as needed and in some cases as soon as a month or two after the preliminary hearing.
To summarize my overall philosophy: An Arbitrator has the authority and is empowered, under most Rules, to do whatever another forum of competent jurisdiction could/can do, under statute and/or judicial precedent. Yet as Arbitrator, not unlike an intermediate court, I must recognize and apply the Texas courts’ or the federal courts’ deliberate statement of the law and, by exercising judicial/arbitral self-restraint, refrain from extending or restricting the scope of those courts’ declaration. I will at all times vehemently resist any and all temptation to “split the baby.”