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Mediation and other alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes are now well integrated into the United States judicial system, in both civil and criminal cases. This white paper, drafted for the American Bar Association Commission on the Future of Legal Services, summarizes empirical evidence about the costs and benefits of court-annexed ADR. The first-generation of ADR research found that mediation and other ADR processes resulted in high party satisfaction rates, high settlement rates, cost savings and efficiency, increased long-term cooperation among the parties, and higher compliance rates with the outcome. The paper then examines a ground-breaking study conducted by the Maryland Judiciary about the costs and benefits of court-annexed ADR. The Maryland ADR study provides an example of rigorous second-generation ADR research that isolates the impact of participating in an ADR process rather than a trial, regardless of whether a settlement is reached. The research also examines the impact of specific mediator interventions (such as reflecting, caucusing, and eliciting options for resolution) on party attitudes and outcomes. The paper ends with a call for additional second-generation research about what works in court-connected mediation and other ADR processes, and identifies some of the gaps in the existing body of ADR empirical research.

Publication Citation

67 South Carolina Law Review 245 (2016).


Courts | Dispute Resolution and Arbitration