United States District Court - Northern District Court of California

Phyllis J. Hamilton, Chief Judge

Susan Y. Soong, Clerk of Court

Other Processes

Customized ADR Processes

The court's ADR staff will work with parties to customize an ADR process to meet the needs of their case or to design an ADR process for them. An ADR staff member is available for a telephone conference with all counsel to discuss ADR options. Clients are invited to join such conferences.


Arbitration under this local rule is an adjudicative process in which an arbitrator or a panel of three arbitrators issues a non-binding judgment ("award" or "decision") on the merits after an expedited, adversarial hearing. Either party may reject the non-binding award or decision and request a trial de novo. An Arbitration occurs earlier in the life of a case than a trial and is less formal and less expensive. Because testimony is taken under oath and is subject to cross-examination, arbitration can be especially useful in cases that turn on credibility of witnesses. Arbitrators do not facilitate settlement discussions. Parties considering a non-binding arbitration are encouraged to contact the ADR Unit for assistance in structuring a non-binding arbitration tailored to their case. See ADR LR 4 (Abrogated) .

Non-binding Summary Bench or Jury Trial

The ADR staff can help parties structure a non-binding summary bench or jury trial under ADR Local Rule 8-1. A summary bench or jury trial is a flexible, non-binding process designed to:

  • Promote settlement in complex, trial-ready cases headed for long trials.
  • Provide an advisory verdict after an abbreviated presentation of evidence.
  • Offer litigants a chance to ask questions and hear the reactions of the judge and/or jury, and/or
  • Trigger settlement negotiations based on the judge's or jury's non-binding verdict and reactions.

See ADR LR 8-1(a).

Special Masters

The assigned judge may appoint a special master, whose fee is paid by the parties, to serve a wide variety of functions, including:

  • Discovery manager
  • Fact-finder
  • Host of settlement negotiations
  • Post-judgment administrator or monitor

See ADR LR 8-1 (b).

Private ADR Providers

The court encourages parties to consider private sector ADR providers who offer services including arbitration, mediation, fact-finding, neutral evaluation and private judging. Private providers may be lawyers, law professors, retired judges or other professionals with expertise in dispute resolution techniques. They generally charge a fee. See ADR LR 8-2 .