The American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) is a not-for-profit organization that provides arbitration and mediation services for organizations and individuals that wish to resolve disputes out of court, as well as other services to businesses that require an impartial third party to resolve challenges that cannot be solved within the company.
The Association is the largest provider of alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) services in the world. Founded in 1926, the organization’s aim is to avoid disputes reaching the civil court system, thereby preventing overburdening of the courts and allowing for more parties to reach just solutions to their conflicts. This is particularly beneficial in the case of massive natural disasters that leave many people in need of case resolution so that they can acquire settlement money and begin to recover. The AAA has worked with states to handle large caseloads of catastrophe claims stemming from events like Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy.
The organization is made up of former judges and experienced legal and business professionals who can provide informed, personalized guidance to the individuals and businesses who come to the organization with disputes. The organization also has strict policies for confidentiality and impartiality to ensure that all who use the services are free to speak and are properly treated as the arbitration or mediation goes forward. Over the AAA’s long history, it has developed rules and procedures that help parties to efficiently reach successful resolutions. The AAA has refined these guidelines over time, and has a number of different procedures based on the kind of arbitration or mediation needed, such as commercial, construction, consumer, employment, and international disputes. This information allows both parties to be prepared when entering into the negotiations, and helps the process run smoothly and fairly.
Additionally, the organization provides tools and standard clauses to help businesses establish in employee and contractor agreements the process for using AAA’s services should the need arise. This makes it easy for a business to decide ahead of any issue how that issue will be handled, and give security to the employer and employee alike against the risks and costs of a legal battle in court.
The AAA has also adapted to our changing digital world, and has resources both to help with disputes arising from data security breaches, and to properly handle the necessary transfers of data that will be required in the dispute resolution process. Just as with any other area, the AAA has experts in data protection on staff that can use their particular knowledge to handle digital information disputes with the required expertise, which may not be available from the judges or juries should that dispute make its way into court.
The organization can handle case filing and management, as well as payment and communications, online. Their site makes it simple to access the services the organization provides and has resources and webinars to educate you on the alternative dispute resolution process. The AAA also provides other services, such as election administration to businesses that require a neutral party to collect and tally votes for an internal election process.
Although the ADR process is neutral, and third-party organizations like the AAA exist to provide unbiased arbitrators and mediators for these proceedings, it is still a good idea to have a lawyer on your side as you enter into the process. It is important to note that the neutral parties in this proceeding are just that, neutral, and will not provide legal advice to either side. If you want legal help in your ADR proceeding, you will still need to find a lawyer to provide those services. There are lawyers who have worked with mediators and arbitrators in the past that understand the process and can work to be sure that you reach the best outcome possible for yourself. These lawyers will also understand that part of the purpose of using these services rather than going to court is to avoid aggressive opposition, but instead to reach a fair, middle-ground agreement. When you have a lot at stake in the process, it may not be mandatory to have an advisor for the process, but it would be a wise decision to reach out for help to be certain that your resolution is truly fair to you.
If you are seeking legal help in setting up or going through an AAA arbitration or mediation, contact the team at Traverse Legal and one of our experienced lawyers can guide you through the process.
This blog post contributed, in part, by Traverse Legal’s Virtual Law Clerk Scott Pehoushek.