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Types of ADR

  1. ADR options
  2. Who to talk to about your ADR options

ADR options:

Mediation: In mediation, a neutral person (called a mediator) helps you and the other parties discuss what each of you want, and how you can reach your goals or a reasonable consensus. The mediator does not take sides or impose an outcome.  A mediator can help you explore possible resolutions and find a solution that everyone can accept. Please remember that mediation is voluntary.  You can end mediation and continue preparations for trial at any time during the process.  Information shared during mediation cannot be used later in a trial.

Mediation is a good choice when you and the other parties:
  • Have a business, community, or personal relationship you wish to maintain;
  • Have strong feelings that prevent the resolution of your issue; and/or
  • Want a solution that does not only involve money, such as changing a behavior.

Mediation is typically very different, and less formal, than a trial.  It often proceeds more like an assisted negotiation.

Arbitration: In arbitration, an arbitrator hears the evidence and the arguments of the parties, and makes a decision. The participating parties can agree to binding or non-binding arbitration.  If you choose binding arbitration, the arbitrator’s decision will be final and you will not go to trial. You cannot appeal a binding arbitration decision.  If you choose non-binding arbitration (also called Judicial Arbitration), either you or the other party can reject the arbitrator’s decision and request a trial.

Arbitration may be a good option when you and the other parties want:

  • Witnesses to testify under oath; or
  • A (non-binding) opinion from an experienced trial lawyer; or
  • If the only result you are seeking for monetary, which is called “damages”.

Arbitration is usually a less formal proceeding, with relaxed rules of evidence, but is very much like a trial.

Neutral Evaluation (NE): In neutral evaluation, an evaluator listens to both sides and reviews short written statements from each party. Then, the evaluator offers an opinion on the strong and weak points of each party's case.  The evaluator’s opinion can help parties better understand the most important legal issues in the case, assist with discovery plans, and give an idea of the value and likely outcome of the case if it went to trial.  This process is informal and can help parties seek resolution as well as a better understanding of the value of the case.

Neutral evaluation is a good option when the parties:

  • Differ on interpretations of the law or the value of the case;
  • Have a case that involves an issue about with the evaluator has special knowledge; and/or
  • Need assistance to plan the case and save time as well as legal fees and costs.

Mandatory Settlement Conference: Mandatory settlement conferences are informal meetings held at court. They are held in every case that will take more than one day in trial. Usually, the week before the trial date is set, a judge or experienced lawyer meets with all parties and encourages a resolution acceptable to all.

Settlement conferences can be effective when the experience and expertise of a neutral helps to guide the parties to a mutually acceptable resolution.

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Who to talk to about your ADR options:

The Alameda County ADR Program can be contacted in the following ways:
Telephone: (510) 891-6055

More information and lists of mediators and judicial arbitrators are available at

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