Professor Frank Sander has, for many years, been one of the most prescient commentators on the alternative dispute resolution ("ADR") movement. His 1976 Pound Conference speech has been identified by many as marking the birth of the modern ADR phenomena. That speech, which compared some of the pros and cons of litigation and an array of other dispute resolution processes, has been summarized as proposing the concept of the "multi-door courthouse." In contrast, Professor Sander's more recent and very interesting review of the present and future of ADR makes little attempt to distinguish between mediation and binding arbitration, the two major forms of ADR.
While the semantic question may be uninteresting, I suggest that it is useful to ask the normative question of how we should categorize binding arbitration. Again, there may be no clear "right" answer. Nevertheless, addressing the question of the appropriate categorization of binding arbitration provides a good means for rethinking the nature of binding arbitration, what we mean by ADR, and how the variety of dispute resolution techniques typically grouped together as ADR relate to litigation. Artificially grouping these disparate processes together under the "ADR" umbrella is beginning to prove problematic. While we may continue to use the phrase in some contexts, at minimum we should think more carefully about its implications.
2000 J. Disp. Resol. 97
Sternlight, Jean R., "Is Binding Arbitration a Form of ADR?: An Argument That the Term "ADR" Has Begun to Outlive Its Usefulness" (2000). Scholarly Works. Paper 270.