Anna Nash
J.D. Candidate Elon University School of Law

Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) is a method in which attorneys rely on resolving matters through Mediation, Arbitration, Settlement Negotiation, and the Collaborative Process rather than litigation. “ADR” is what Ashley-Nicole Russell’s entire practice is based on: solving your disputes out of court.

Contrary to belief, “ADR” is a widely used practice. According to the U.S. District Court Table C-4 of the Annual Reports of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts only .7% of civil cases from March 2022-March 2023 reached trial. Download Table Here. With this astounding statistic, it is shocking the current Bar Exam does not test “ADR”. However, that is about to change.

Beginning July 2026, the North Carolina Bar Exam will pilot the new and improved Bar Exam. This Bar Exam will no longer strictly focus on the core doctrinal classes, rather examinees will now be tested on Client Counseling and Advising, Investigation and Evaluation, and Negotiation and Dispute Resolution. “ADR” questions will still overlap with doctrinal coursework; however, examinees will become the attorney and advise the best ways to reach settlement, out of court. ABA.

“ADR” becoming a core part of the North Carolina Bar Exam is a huge step towards the Collaborative Practice becoming more prevalent. Most are unaware of the detrimental impact litigation can have on a family during a divorce. “ADR” and the Collaborative Process allows for families to stay at the forefront of the matter and stay out of court. By forcing this new generation of lawyers to learn about and use “ADR” it is opening the door to resolving disputes amicably, no matter what the dispute may be.

What exactly is the Collaborative Process? The Collaborative Process is a form of divorce that is out of court. Each party is represented by a collaborative trained attorney, who works with you, the other party, and the other attorney, to come to a divorce agreement that works for everyone. The Collaborative Process ensures that families have a say in what occurs during their divorce—there is no uncertainty. The Collaborative Process allows every party to make educated decisions about their needs. Read more about the Collaborative Process here.

Here at AN|R Law we are dedicated to helping our clients through this tough process. However, with the Collaborative Process, it is possible to stay out of court, take the uncertainty away, and make educated decisions. If you are considering divorce, look to Collaborative.

Divorce is never easy. However, with the new Bar Exam, the new generation of attorneys will have more expertise on “ADR” and understand the importance of it. At AN|R Law, we are hopeful the new Bar Exam will lead more divorcing couples to the Collaborative Process, so you can keep your divorce out of court.

AN|R Law is committed to settling conflict without involving the court system through our four North Carolina locations in Greenville, Raleigh, Beaufort, and Wilmington. You can learn more about working with AN|R Law: A Negotiated Resolution for Collaborative Divorce and other family law matters in North Carolina by reaching out to our office. You can call 252-702-4376 or fill out this online contact form.

Connect with AN|R on our social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. You can also check out her book, The Cure for Divorce Culture, and listen to her podcast, “Divorce, Healthy!” which is available on all major listening platforms. If you’re interested in inviting Ashley Nicole Russell to speak at your next event or conference, she is currently booking in-person and virtual speaking engagements for 2023. Please reach out to to learn more about scheduling.