Contact Stephanie Schuman,
Principal Counsel & Attorney-at-Law

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)


Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is generally classified into four types: negotiation, mediation, collaboration, and arbitration--with arbitration and mediation being the most utilized by far. Conciliation is occasionally regarded as a fifth category, but may be regarded as a form of mediation. ADR can be used alongside existing litigation, especially in court cases with a large number of claims.


Arbitration is a private process similar to a trial in that the parties make opening statements and present evidence to the arbitrator. Disputing parties may agree that one or several individuals can make a decision about the dispute after receiving evidence and hearing arguments. Arbitration is different from mediation because the neutral arbitrator has the authority to make a decision about the dispute. Compared to traditional trials, arbitration can usually be completed more quickly, is less expensive, and far less formal. For example, often the parties do not have to follow state or federal rules of evidence and, in some cases, the arbitrator is not required to apply the governing law.

After the hearing, the arbitrator issues an award, some of which are simply an announcement of the decision (a "bare bones" award), and others of which include reasons (a "reasoned" award).

The arbitration process may be either binding or non-binding. When arbitration is binding, the decision is final, can be enforced by a court, and can only be appealed on very narrow grounds. When arbitration is non-binding, the arbitrator's award is advisory and can be final only if accepted by the parties.


In the cannabis industry, arbitration can be either compulsory or happen by mutual agreement of two parties to a conflict. At leaf legal, our attorneys represent clients in arbitration of various cannabis matters from investment disputes to business divorce.


Mediation is a process that allows all of the parties to a dispute to work with a neutral mediator to resolve legal disagreements. Having an impartial mediator can help the parties avoid litigation costs, resolve conflicts more efficiently, and negotiate solutions collaboratively.

At Leaf Legal, our attorneys often act as impartial mediators, providing benefits and cost savings to all the parties to a conflict. Mediation offers many advantages.

• Fair and Impartial: Mediation is a fair and impartial process, with all the parties participating in selecting the mediator. The parties determine the terms of any settlement, and there is no adjudication of guilt or fault.

• Cost-effective: If done early in the process, mediation can save the parties the costs of extensive discovery and litigation and the emotional toll that a trial can take on all parties.

• Confidentiality: Mediation is confidential, and the mediator will not share the information revealed in mediation with anyone.

• Cooperation: Mediation fosters cooperation by including all of the parties in the entire negotiation process. Mediation encourages the parties to be part of the solution.

• Increased Communication: Mediation allows all the parties to openly and confidentially discuss their views on the issues at hand. Improved communication takes the parties out of their entrenched litigation positions and can lead to mutually rewarding solutions.


In the cannabis industry, mediation can happen through the mutual agreement of two parties to a conflict. Alternatively, a court order, written agreement, or contract can require that the parties mediate any disputes before arbitration or litigation. At Leaf Legal, we act both as neutral mediators and as attorneys representing clients engaged in mediation. Our attorneys handle mediation for a wide range of cannabis matters, including everything from contract and vendor disputes, to intellectual property and employment agreements.


At Leaf Legal, when representing clients involved in a dispute, as practiced mediators, we thoroughly understand the process and guide our clients to satisfying solutions in the attorney's role as well. As a party to a conflict, mediation can also help you identify the issues at hand. While mediation is often successful, even if it isn't, it illuminates the strengths and weaknesses of both parties' positions before proceeding to trial or arbitration.

The Truth About the Risks

Know for sure whether your business is in compliance with state and local cannabis regulations.