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Study Shows People Prefer Mediation over Litigation in Civil Cases

Tuesday, January, 28, 2014


University of California Davis Law Professor Donna Shestowsky has concluded a study involving 400 litigants in 19 States in the USA that demonstrates the overwhelming popularity of mediation over litigation in almost any civil case.  Participants in the study expressed a preference for mediation over the options of non-binding arbitration, citing the greater control and involvement.  They also expressed a clear preference for judge trials as opposed to jury trials.


The findings are significant for many states whose court systems have seen budget cuts combined with expanding volume.  For example, in the State of California, the court system has seen budget cuts of $1 billion in recent years while the volume of civil cases has spiked.  This has many state governments seeking to push arbitration or mediation as a preferred option before seeking redress in the courts.  While many state officials thought arbitration, with its more formal and court-like process would be preferable, the new study may see investments in optional mediation programs instead.


Most alternative dispute resolution (ADR) programs being considered as alternatives to civil litigation would be voluntary.  While the State would encourage an attempt at mediation prior to litigation, it cannot require it under U.S. law.  As a result, offering the preferred form of litigation alternative would be vital towards the success of any such program.


Professor Shestowsky’s findings and details of the study were published in the January 2014 issue of the Iowa Law Review.