Arbitration is an extremely complex, dynamic process. Because each of the lawyers is different; each of the clients is different; and each of the issues presented are different and unique; the arbitrator must continually use a complete array of skills--both legal, authoritative, and psychological.
To begin with, the arbitrator must understand the subject matter in order to be able to critically evaluate the disputed issues. A working knowledge of the subject matter will help streamline the process and provide the parties with the confidence, knowing that the arbitrator “grocks”the material.
In addition, usually these cases come through a process of litigation. In these types of cases, the relationship between the counsel and the parties is often strained, at best, and dysfunctional, at worst. How an arbitrator these aggressive relationships may well affect a smooth transition to hearing. The arbitrator must be able to handle boisterous, obstreperous and aggressive counsel that tend to disrupt the process.
Oftentimes during the course of arbitration, there are a great deal of discovery disputes; including deposition scheduling, written discovery, and admissibility of evidence. The arbitrator must have working knowledge of these disputes and be able to rule with relative definitiveness on resolving these discovery issues. Please see the attached tab for my arbitration philosophy regarding discovery.
Quite often, there are many, many issues involving points of law. The arbitrator must be completely familiar with those areas and how to resolve those issues. Moreover, the parties often tend to “dump” the entire case at the feet of the arbitrator and expect him to go through it. The parties must be apprised that that takes a great of painstaking time and thought. Thus, it is very helpful if the arbitrator can convince the attorneys and their clients into stipulating into a variety of facts – which will save everyone time and money.
Long before the hearing, there may be five to ten pre-conference hearings attempting to resolve or at least streamline issues prior to the time of the actual hearing. Lastly at the conclusion of the hearing, John Preston will render a fairly detailed findings of fact and conclusions of law. This allows the parties to feel that they have been carefully heard and a neutral third party considered and then resolved their issues.