Arbitration has been with us for a very long time.  Arbitration was used as early as 1800 BC in the eastern Mediterranean, and the Greek philosopher Aristotle raved about his preference of arbitration over the courts.  George Washington wrote arbitration into his Will.  Abraham Lincoln perhaps said it best:

Discourage litigation.
Persuade your neighbors to compromise
whenever you can.
Point out to them how the nominal winner is often the real loser . . . in fees, expenses and waste of time.

Yet arbitration is under attack, and from the rhetoric it is obvious that many do not understand and others spread misinformation about this form of dispute resolution.  To fully understand arbitration objectively, look at the “white paper” that my friend in Fort Worth, John Allen Chalk, wrote while Chair of the State Bar of Texas ADR Section.

Arbitration is not a panacea or solution to everyone and everything – no more that a full-blown jury trial in federal court is.  But it can be a very effective and rewarding way to advocate in a more informal and generally more cost-effective environment than traditional courthouse litigation.  It is always faster, more flexible and extremely efficient.  Counsel who is truly reluctant to pay the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”), its nominal administrative fee really ought to settle that case.  But if one wants the sanctity of a first-class administrative body, and a leg up in the event enforcement of the Award becomes an issue, they should go through the AAA or another service provider.

I arbitrate under the auspices of the AAA, the American Health Lawyers Association, the International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution (“CPR”), Conflict Solutions of Texas and the College of Commercial Arbitrators.  I have conducted arbitrations under the JAMS Comprehensive Arbitration Rules.  Lastly, I am admitted to the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (“CIArb – London) and have chaired an international tribunal under through the AAA’s international sister, the International Center for Dispute Resolution.

Yet a good number (over 40%) of my arbitrations are private – not administered by any of the fine ADR service providers.  Because of that, we have developed an Agreement to Private Arbitration that the State Bar of Texas now uses and a form of Agreed Scheduling Order that most find easy to use.

Presenting a case in arbitration differs in material respects from techniques learned in traditional courthouse litigation, so I have written an article highlighting the differences.  Current efforts to bring arbitration back to what its originators intended have led to the new CCA Protocols for Expeditious, Cost-Effective Commercial Arbitration.

My arbitration docket has taken me as far east as Mobile, Alabama, as far west as Tucson, Arizona and as far north as Dearborn, Michigan.  Yet, many of my arbitrations still seem to be in Texas and adjoining states – and not only metropolitan areas of Texas but also smaller towns and rural areas.  While I have some hearings set 10-12 months out (we try to avoid setting a case more than 240 days out), the flexibility of my practice has allowed me to set hearings as needed and in some cases as soon as a month or two after the preliminary hearing.

To summarize my overall philosophy:  An Arbitrator has the authority and is  empowered, under most Rules, to do whatever another forum of competent jurisdiction could/can do, under statute and/or judicial precedent.  Yet as Arbitrator, not unlike an intermediate court, I must recognize and apply the Texas courts’ or the federal courts’ deliberate statement of the law and, by exercising judicial/arbitral self-restraint, refrain from extending or restricting the scope of those courts’ declaration.  I will at all times vehemently resist any and all temptation to “split the baby”.


It Makes Sense . .

Parties retain me to arbitrate and mediate for them because of my experience, impartiality and thoroughness. It is my nature to determine all the facts . . .



After being shareholder and practice group leader in one of San Antonio’s major law firms, Bill Lemons formed his professional corporation in 1997 hoping to become less involved in litigation, and more involved in dispute resolution – mediation, arbitration, case evaluation and consulting. That is now all he does. He is now blessed with a full-time ADR practice. Assisted by his wife, Pam, they have set up their offices so that counsel and their clients alike can ...