Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

What is ADR, Why Use it, and How You Can Benefit From it.

What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)?

Understanding Arbitration and Mediation

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) refers to processes that use an impartial third-party who helps people communicate and collaborate to address tough issues, make decisions, or resolve conflict. The use of ADR can save money by reducing expensive litigation costs and promoting a more efficient and durable resolution of conflicts. Some ADR processes are used solely to foster better understanding or information sharing. When individuals seek resolution, ADR most often takes the form of mediation or arbitration. In Texas, we have a statute that provides certain requirements for court-referred ADR: see Chapter 154 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) refers to processes that use an impartial third-party who helps people communicate and collaborate to address tough issues, make decisions or resolve conflict.


Mediation is a process of communication in which persons with a dispute, assisted by a mediator, reach an agreement, understanding, or reconciliation. Mediators are facilitators; they are there to assist disputants who make their own decisions about the resolution of their conflict. Mediators are neutral parties and impartial to the disputants and the outcome. As such, mediators are ethically bound not to impose an outcome or decision on either side. Have a look at our article that goes into further detail in answering the question of “What is Mediation” and have a look at our step-by-step guide showing how to become a certified mediator. The only requirement for certification (in most states, Texas included – check your state’s ADR statute for more information) is a one-time, 40-Hour class that you can complete from the comfort of your home.

Common Mediation Myths

  • I have to be an attorney to be a mediator.
    • False – Our classes are open to both non-attorneys and attorneys alike, and many of our most successful mediators we have trained had little to no legal training prior to taking our class.
  • Becoming a Mediator Sounds complicated…why bother?
    • Becoming a mediator is not difficult! For starters, there is only one requirement needed for becoming a certified mediator: A one-time, 40-Hour class that can  be completed from the comfort of your own home (See our upcoming 40-Hour Basic Mediation Classes Here). Our classes are typically a week long and our instructors structure our courses to be built from the ground up, allowing anyone to benefit from them, regardless of individual experience levels. From basic law and conflict resolution skills, to more advanced negotiation and de-escalation techniques, our comprehensive course modules will ensure you have the knowledge and ability to be an authoritative figure when it comes to managing conflicts, negoiating disputes, and facilitating agreements.
  • I need to have a college degree if I want to be a mediator.
  • That all sounds great, but I just don’t have the time or money to take that sort of class!
    • Are classes are built to allow for easy access and a comfortable environment for all of our participants. With our online classes, you can become a certified mediator without having to leave the couch. We believe in providing generous breaks and understand if you need to “step out of the classroom” for a brief time to take a phone call or deal with other matters. Additionally, we provide CLE’s and CE’s (accreddited by the state bar of Texas) and offer generous discounts to veterans and teachers on all of our classes. Get in touch with us to find out more information about these special pricings.

What is Arbitration?

Arbitration is generally less formal than a court proceeding, though the parties may present evidence, or call and question witnesses. Unlike a mediator, the arbitrator renders a decision or award once the case is presented.  Arbitration can be voluntary or mandatory and can be either binding or non-binding. The arbitrator is a decision-maker; the mediator is not.

Most arbitrations stem from an arbitration clause in a contract, in which the parties have agreed to resolve any disputes through arbitration. Arbitration clauses can be simple – basically stating that claims will be settled according to applicable arbitration rules and then enforced by a local court. However, they can also be more complex, governing a significant number of matters, such as how arbitrators will be selected, the location of the arbitration, who will be responsible for attorney’s fees, and if the final arbitration award must be kept confidential. Arbitration clauses are found in all types of agreements such as employment and consumer contracts, autos sales, credit cards, home repairs, and insurance. These arbitration clauses require that disputes arising out of contracts and transactions be resolved through arbitration. As independent arbitrators, Mediators and Arbitrators of America can help you minimize costs and expedite the arbitration process. Mediators of Texas follows applicable American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) arbitration rules and procedures.

Litigation vs. Mediation vs. Arbitration

Additional Information:

Interested in becoming an Arbitrator? Our Arbitration Courses and Advanced Arbitration Courses will give you the tools you need to successfully become a professional Arbitrator. See our upcoming classes here.

Looking for Arbitration Services? Our professional arbitrators have the skills and experience needed to handle any arbitration, big or small. Find out more about hiring one of our professionals and the services we provide here.

Have more questions? Here’s an article wrote describing alternative dispute resolution that offers a casual look inside the world of mediation and arbitration. | What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?

American Bar Association | Dispute Resolution