Not all legal matters are resolved through the filing a lawsuit. Some matters are settled by way of an administrative proceeding through a government agency like the IRS, the Board of Education, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC), or an institution such as a private or public university. Other matters, rather by contractual agreement or statutory scheme, require alternative dispute resolution such as arbitration or mediation either before, or instead of filling a lawsuit.
If you have a dispute with a governmental entity over the availability of a benefit or the appropriateness of a penalty or an adverse employment action, the first step in appealing that ruling will often involve the initiation of an administrative proceeding. If you disagree with a ruling by a governmental entity, your first and often second appeals will be to an administrative tribunal. Sometimes, even disputes with non-governmental entities require an administrative action prior to instituting a lawsuit. For example, before filing some workplace discrimination lawsuits, even private sector employees are required to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. If your legal issue involves rules devised or enforced by an administrative agency, you should consider consulting with a lawyer prior to filing.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”)
Alternative Dispute Resolution is most often used to describe two types of proceedings: mediation and arbitration. In mediation, the disputing parties work with a neutral third party, usually an experienced lawyer or retired judge, to resolve their dispute by agreement. Arbitrations are also usually heard by a neutral third party, but unlike mediations, typically involve an adversarial process similar to a trial in court. Unlike a trial, however, arbitrations usually involve limited discovery and are designed to save the parties time and money.
While these procedures are sometimes required, sometimes parties will choose them as more efficient ways to solve problems. Our attorneys have significant experience with ADR, including successfully representing clients in arbitration proceedings before the Financial Industry Regulatory Agency (FINRA), and can help you effectively navigate the process.