A formalized mechanism by which legal disputes can be settled outside of traditional litigation.

ADR may consist of mediation, dispute resolution coaching, non-binding arbitration or binding arbitration. In most ADR methods, both parties need to agree to be participants in mediation and arbitration.  However, dispute resolution coaching can provide significant resolution possibilities while working with only one participant.  

The promise of mediation and dispute coaching a quicker and less costly result. In theory, this is due to the need for people to be heard and validated before they can think more flexiblyand generously about their conflict. The rules and mechanisms driving litigation tend to enflame and escalate hostility and conflict. In part, this is because the goal of litigation is to find a winner and a loser, rather than to look for win-win possibilities.  Arbitration is similarly a win-lose rather than a win-win process and result.  Speedier process can be expected, but is often due to simply cutting off the timelines.  Thus the result for Arbitration can often be even worse than litigation if an important value of a party is to have their case be heard and fully deliberated with a sense of ultimate justice being done.

While ADR is generally quicker and less costly than full-blown litigation, that may not always be true.  For example, in trademark litigation where the plaintiff can sometimes succeed in petitioning the court for emergency intervention and a speedier court docket, plaintiff's with a strong case may determine an immediate injunction is a better strategy.

Whether or not ADR is desirable for a particular situation is highly case dependent and should be discussed with an attorney and/or ADR specialist.  Note, many attorneys do not fully grasp or appreciate the concept and value of ADR, so you cannot rely on your litigation attorney to explain the pros/cons of ADR in favor of not hiring them for full-blown litigation.