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Arbitration Now: Opportunities for Fairness, Process Renewal and Invigoration

by Robert Kirkman Collins
July 2000

Review by:
The Aternative Newsletter Editor, Robert Kirkman Collins
Published by: (American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution, 1999; ISBN 1-57073-734-7, 273 pp.)

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This volume is a collection of essays emerging from a conference entitled Arbitration: Preparing for the Twenty-First Century that was sponsored by the ABA Section on Dispute Resolution and the Association of the Bar of the City of New York in the Fall of 1998.

While we've now all survived any anxieties about Y2K problems in the New Millennium, the precise role arbitration should play in the Twenty-First Century continues to be a matter of concern, as the process expands into ever wider consumer and employment applications. As the book points out, arbitration was actually first authorized in North America as early as 1683 (when triumvirates of "common peacemakers" with decisional authority were appointed to each district of William Penn's new colony), and has long been a mainstay in certain areas of commerce. As these essays make manifest, however, arbitration now stands poised to expand from "the periphery of the civil justice system to the center of many areas of the law".

The articles in this collection address many of the current challenges posed by the expansion of arbitration -- the tension between civil rights enforcement and employment arbitration clauses, the issues raised by punitive damage awards in securities arbitrations, the concerns about fairness that arise from imposing arbitration procedures on perhaps unwitting consumers, and the practical and ethical concerns created when mediation and arbitration are blended. The volume also includes several essays that focus on ethical codes and issues for arbitrators, and -- true to the conference's futuristic focus -- a piece addressing the concerns and possibilities raised by the prospect of on-line dispute resolution.


Robert Kirkman Collins, J.D., has been cited by Cardozo Law School as being “among the pioneers of divorce mediation”. A co-founder of The New York Mediation Group, Bob is an attorney with an independent practice in divorce mediation and matrimonial law in Manhattan, with over twenty years of experience as a practicing mediator. He is the author of a training text for divorce mediation, and has trained professionals throughout the United States and in Great Britain. Bob currently teaches divorce mediation as an Adjunct Professor at Cardozo Law School, and has taught mediation at the Northwest Institute for Dispute Resolution and at Hofstra Law School.

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Additional articles by Robert Kirkman Collins