When we think about the end goal for most legal matters, it really comes down to dispute resolution. When two parties are in conflict and enlist the help of professionals, they are essentially looking to come to a resolution. Sometimes, legal proceedings and the use of the court system can facilitate this; however, not every situation needs to end up in court. Many matters can be resolved using dispute resolution methods which can keep individuals and families out of court. This is why every October, conflict resolution methods and practices are celebrated by State Court Systems, associations, and professionals. 

Here at AN|R Law, we celebrate alternative dispute resolution methods every day of the month and every month of the year. We are proud to be a law firm with four North Carolina locations that are all focused solely on out-of-court resolutions. Afterall, AN|R Law is A Negotiated Resolution and we are fully committed to these types of processes. Over the years, my efforts to highlight the importance of conflict resolution have been featured on various outlets including ForbesThe Washington Post, and ABC, NBC, and CBS news affiliates. 

In light of this awareness month and national awareness day, AN|R Law is using this opportunity to highlight the benefits of conflict resolution methods in North Carolina. These types of alternative dispute resolution processes will keep families and individuals out of court, allowing them to resolve conflict in a healthier and more confidential manner.

Spreading Awareness for Alternative Dispute Resolution

At AN|R Law, my legal team and I handle the majority of our cases with Collaborative Law, mediation, or settlement negotiation. All of these processes keep our clients and their families out of a courtroom which can save them time and money as well as reduce their emotional conflict. While these methods are often used for family law, I have also used them for clients who are looking to resolve different types of conflict with people or organizations concerning their unique situations. Some examples of legal disputes we have handled out-of-court include those involving a business partner, employer, neighbor, medical provider, or family member.

It is important for me to not only share information about alternative dispute resolution but also help other attorneys see the benefit of these practices. In addition to serving clients through these processes, I am honored to work with other attorneys to help them establish or enhance their own law firms to begin using these out-of-court methods. While most attorneys start their legal careers in litigation, I’ve talked to many of them over the years who aren’t satisfied and who don’t feel rewarded by their work. As a result, they either look to leave the profession or want to practice a different type of law. During my career, I’ve helped many litigation attorneys pivot their practices to offer alternative dispute resolution methods and restructure their law firms to support out-of-court processes. 

In addition, AN|R Law is passionate about mentorship opportunities and helping aspiring legal professionals see the many components of law. Over the years, we’ve developed a dynamic internship program where we work with students during undergrad, grad, and law school years to allow them to experience alternative dispute resolution methods and expose them to the Collaborative Law practice. For me personally, I figured out early on that I wanted to pursue a legal career in out-of-court conflict resolution. It started when I was a Certified District Court Mediator during my undergraduate years and then I attended law school to focus on mediation and dispute resolution. I also hold a Certificate in Dispute Resolution from the Dispute Resolution Institute of North Carolina Central University School of Law and it is my understanding that I was the very first law clerk for Collaborative Family Law in the nation. These experiences helped to shape me as an attorney and I’m honored to provide a stepping stone to dispute resolution for students who are interested in these types of practices.

Benefits to Staying Out of Court

Conflict resolution methods are rapidly growing in popularly across North Carolina – especially Collaborative Family Law. I’m often asked why someone should choose this type of law rather than litigation. For me, the answer is simple. Collaborative Law allows a family – specifically divorcing spouses – to come to a resolution without unnecessary drama or increased conflict. With Collaborative Law, we focus on a win-win mentality rather than a win-lose mentality. Yes, it is still an emotional process and yes, it can be a lot of work… but I’ve been told time and time again that it is worth it. Our clients are happier on the other side because of how the Collaborative Divorce process works and how it is formulated. In addition to the benefit of staying out of court, Collaborative Divorce cases focus on creating a strong foundation for the future. It’s become known as a healthier way to divorce because of its step-by-step process and the tasks that must be met. The process is outlined by the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the concept can be applied to many different types of resolutions. For instance, I’ve used the Collaborative Process to handle other aspects of family law including prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, custody cases, and family disputes.

The North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission also highlights various benefits to staying out of court for the parties involved, the court system, and taxpayers. Disputing parties find benefit to these methods because they have an opportunity to settle their dispute themselves, rather than having a judge or jury decide matters for them. They’re also able to control the outcome and avoid the inherent risk of a trial and the possibility of an appeal. Settling disputes out of court also means that the parties don’t have to deal with court system backlogs, delays, or additional paperwork. This also helps the court system since judges can better allocate their time, turning their attention to civil cases that did not settle out of court or to criminal matters. In addition, many out-of-court resolutions reduce the cost of taxpayer dollars being spent on protracted litigation and trials.

Working with an Experienced Professional

When you choose to keep your legal matter out of court, it’s important to work with a professional who has wide-ranging experience in alternative dispute resolutions. I am proud to have over a decade of concentrated work as a Collaborative Law attorney as well as more than 15 years of experience as a mediator. When I founded AN|R Lawstraight out of law school in 2011, I became the first Collaborative Law attorney in the Pitt County area and quickly helped other attorneys realize the benefit to utilizing this type of process at their firms. AN|R Law is committed to settling conflict without involving the court system through our four North Carolina locations in Raleigh, Greenville, 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 FacebookInstagram, and LinkedIn. You can also check out my book, The Cure for Divorce Culture, and listen to my podcast, “Divorce, Healthy!” which is available on all major listening platforms. If you’re interested in inviting me, Ashley-Nicole Russell, to speak at your next event or conference, I’d be honored to talk with you about the opportunity. I’m currently booking in-person and virtual speaking engagements for 2023. Please reach out to my team by emailing media@anrlaw.com.