New York County Lawyers Association Committee on Arbitration and ADR Comments on Success of ADR Program in United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York Offer Encouragement to Users of ADR and Suggest Action by Corporate Counsel

In preparing its evaluation of the EDNY program, NYCLA’s ADR Committee reviewed results of studies by RAND Institute for Justice 3, the Federal Judicial Center4, and by the EDNY Advisory Group5. In addition, the Committee drew on the experience of its members — many of whom serve as neutrals on court-annexed panels of the EDNY and the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (“SDNY”) –, interviews with the ADR Administrator, and other anecdotal sources.

In commenting on the EDNY program in particular, the ADR Committee highlighted RAND’s finding that, of the six pilot districts with ADR programs studied by RAND, the EDNY program had by far the lowest commitment of full time equivalent (“FTE”) personnel annual cost6 and lowest total annual cost7 of all six pilot districts, but had the second highest settlement rate — second only to the settlement rate in the SDNY. The EDNY’s high settlement rate might be attributable, in part, to the initial resources it committed to provide training for neutrals on its panel. By contrast, the programs with the highest FTE personnel annual cost8 and highest total annual cost9 — the SDNY and Southern District of California (“SDCA”) — had a lower per case cost than the EDNY. RAND observes that this is likely due to the high volume of cases in the SDNY and SDCA, as compared with the relatively low volume of cases that has been sent into the EDNY program. All of this indicates that the EDNY ADR program has great potential, but is being under-utilized and could benefit from greater commitment not only of cases but also of resources in order to achieve maximum efficiency and provide the greatest service to cases pending in the EDNY. Accordingly, the NYCLA ADR Committee recommended an increased commitment of resources and cases to the ADR program in the EDNY.

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