Monday, March 27, 2017


Who knew Hamilton was a fan of arbitration? Ron Chernow's best-seller Alexander Hamilton, upon which the new musical is based, chronicles drafting the Constitution, forming the first political parties, and Hamilton's early career as a lawyer achieving amicable settlements through Alternative Dispute Resolution. Apparently, Hamilton was reported to prefer arbitration over litigation. Chernow recounts matters that Hamilton resolved by arbitration, such as shipping disputes. As arbitration figures prominently in the area of consumer agreements, it seems relatively modern, but arbitration has deep roots in our country. Hamilton's busy legal practice made him New York's premier lawyer, with an elite clientele that included the State of New York. Chernow states Hamilton was not alone in his preference for arbitration, as many practitioners of that era preferred it to litigation. In the early years of our nation, arbitration reached a high level of utilization, particularly in commercial disputes, and that continued until a time when the ebb and flow of opinions once again pushed litigation to the forefront and created what was perceived as a judicial hostility toward arbitration-- particularly by allowing the revocation of agreements to arbitrate. The enactment of the Federal Arbitration Act in 1925 established arbitration agreements as valid, irrevocable and enforceable over the last century. Throughout this time, arbitration has been a pivotal part of our dispute resolution mechanisms. While arbitration is by no means a major thread in the overall fabric of Chernow's biography of Hamilton, the references to it are of importance and instructive to all ADR practitioners. The fundamental reasons for its heavy utilization at the time of our nation's formation continue today, particularly in the commercial context. In light of Hamilton's support for arbitration, it's ironic that his final controversy in life was resolved by a duel, a lethal form of dispute resolution says Professor Mazadoorian who analyzes this biography through an ADR lens more here--