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Trials, Litigation, and Arbitration

Some of our clients have had very little exposure to arbitration or litigation, and are unsure exactly what a trial is or how a trial differs from arbitration. To assist you in better understanding the fundamentals of litigation and arbitration, here are a few simple explanations.

Trials and litigation are an important part of the everyday operation of our legal justice system. Litigation is a broad term and refers to the act or process of bringing a legal action to court. In other words, it is everything before, during, and after trial.

A trial is an event in which two or more parties appear in a courthouse to prove or dispute claims through argument and evidence. A trial may be heard before a jury, judge, and are generally tried in public. The length of trials can last anywhere from a few hours to several weeks.

There are two basic forms of trials: bench trials and jury trials. A bench trial is one tried only before a judge and typically takes less time than a jury trial. A jury trial is a one held before a group of community members that have been chosen for that particular trial. 

In some cases, the parties submit to arbitration. Arbitration occurs outside the court system. Most times, the parties submit to arbitration by agreement in a written a contract. In arbitration, two or more parties select an independent third person, an arbitrator, or multiple arbitrators, to decide the dispute. For example, most securities claims are heard by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, also known as FINRA, which is a private self-regulatory organization that coordinates private arbitration of securities claims. Our firm routinely represents clients in FINRA arbitrations. 

For a more detailed outline about the Litigation Process, click here.

For more detailed outline about the Arbitration Process, click here.