Arbitration May Not Be What You Think

There is a dirty little secret about arbitration. Arbitration is supposed to be a quick and inexpensive means of resolving disputes. That is seldom the reality. All too often, arbitrators allow arbitrations to degenerate into the functional equivalent of court room litigation. As a result, arbitrations frequently become as protracted as most civil cases.

Moreover, arbitration is far from inexpensive. In most arbitrations, the parties are forced to pay forum fees that substantially exceed the cost of filing a civil case. Worse yet, instead of having the case decided by a judge who is paid by the taxpayers, the parties must pay the arbitrators for their time. If the case has three arbitrators and the case takes two weeks to be heard, the cost of paying the arbitrators alone can easily exceed $100,000. Yikes!

I Can Help—At Least A Little

I cannot eliminate all of the delays and costs associated with arbitration, but I can mitigate some of the problems. I have participated in over 200 arbitrations, both as an attorney and as an arbitrator. That experience has enabled me to see first-hand what practices promote the fair and efficient resolution of cases and what practices do not. I believe in taking thoughtful control over the arbitration process by seeking at the outset of a case to thoroughly understand the issues that are involved. I then appropriately focus any necessary discovery and expedite the final hearing. That approach streamlines and expedites the process.

I also help control the cost of arbitration by keeping the rates I charge low. Serving as an arbitrator is an honor that I take very seriously. But frankly, it is far less difficult and stressful than representing clients at a hearing or trial. As a result, I charge significantly less to serve as an arbitrator than I previously charged clients to represent them in arbitrations and court cases. I am able to do that because, unlike most arbitrators who are accountable to their law firms for their billable time, I am on my own and free to charge what I think is fair.

A Final Thought

Selecting an arbitrator who tries to be efficient and who charges reasonable fees is important, but only if the arbitrator is also good. So here are a few words about my background and experience. Like many litigators who have practiced a long time, I think I have done it all and seen every claim and defense—especially in the field of commercial litigation. I have handled cases involving contract disputes (including disputes over contract interpretation and contract performance), securities claims, corporate and partnership dissolution disputes, claims involving business torts (including claims for interference with contractual relationships, breach of fiduciary duty, misrepresentation, fraud and conversion), claims arising from the disclosure of trade secrets and diversion of corporate opportunities, professional malpractice claims, insurance coverage disputes,  minority shareholder litigation, and tort claims. I have represented plaintiffs and defendants, individuals and big corporations, the wronged and the wrongdoers.

I have had an AV peer review rating from Martindale-Hubbell for as long as I can remember. I have also been voted a Maryland Super Lawyer in the field of commercial litigation every year since 2008. I achieved those distinctions, in large part, through diligence and perseverance. When preparing for trial, I always attempted to leave no stone unturned. I will bring that same energy and determination to deciding your case.

OK, One More Final Thought

Like most arbitrators, I like to think that I reach the right result in the cases I hear. While reaching the right result in a case is paramount, it is also important for the attorneys and parties to believe that the arbitration was fair. So I focus on the process, as well as the result. I treat all the attorneys, parties and witnesses who appear before me with courtesy and respect (even those attorneys who insist on making the same point ten different times). I also make it clear that I am giving careful attention to the evidence and thoughtful consideration to all of the arguments. My goal is for everyone to be satisfied with the way the arbitration was conducted, even if only one side is satisfied with my decision.