By: Jennifer Matthew, Director of ADR Services-Alaris, and Lisa Herder, Former Director of ADR Services-Alaris
Alaris ADR began over 10 years ago as Aequitas Alternative Dispute Resolution (Aequitas) under the umbrella of Midwest Litigation Services (Midwest). Lisa Herder joined Midwest after working as the administrator for Pinnacle, a dispute resolution program created by Judge Richard Teitelman as a revenue source for Legal Services of Eastern Missouri. At Midwest, Lisa was able to build on the business model of Pinnacle and utilize her skills and knowledge to start Aequitas.
In June of 2010, Judge Brendan Ryan facilitated Aequitas's first mediation in Midwest's St. Louis office. Starting out small, it truly was a grassroots effort to promote Aequitas and educate clients and potential clients about the newly formed company. Along with having a far-reaching presence with offices throughout Missouri and Illinois, Aequitas was able to partner with several nationwide dispute resolution firms to further increase exposure while also expanding the number of neutrals on the panel.
In 2017 Jennifer Matthew was hired and trained with Lisa, who retired in early 2018. At that time Alaris ADR had approximately 60 neutrals in various markets. One of Jen’s goals was to broaden and diversify the neutral panel, including adding more women, more neutrals in varied locations and neutrals with backgrounds distinctive from those traditionally seen. The company continued to grow while the business model and mantra remained steadfast: Our clients always came first.
Three years ago Midwest Litigation, Midwest Trial and Aequitas were re-branded as Alaris. With the growth of technology, Alaris ADR began offering individual online calendars for convenient scheduling, a group email address for access to the ADR team, a revamped educational website and a robust CLE webinar program at no cost to attendees. To date, Alaris ADR has provided 35 hours of CLE credit to over 1,500 attorneys. Additionally, a new Alaris Little Rock Arkansas office debuted in 2018, which launched an additional market for ADR to assist with settling disputes in Arkansas.
No one predicted the damage Covid-19 would cause, and Alaris ADR was no exception. Within a matter of days, the entire company pivoted to an entirely online platform. Alaris ADR was prepared in the sense that Alaris has a strong technology foundation and IT team who have been assisting clients for years. ADR was able to adapt and assist the neutrals and clients with learning how to facilitate on-line dispute resolution (ODR) effectively. During 2020 ADR has experienced a growth in ODR and hybrid mediations as well as an uptick in arbitrations as the courts face a backlog of pending cases. All told, multi-party cases, complex matters and international mediations have settled. Growth has been attained in each market in part because travel time and expense are no longer impediments. Additionally, clients trust Alaris ADR to handle every detail to ensure a smooth proceeding and assistance should any technical issues arise.
For the past 10 years Aequitas and now Alaris ADR have remained committed to our clients, our core values, and the belief that justice is available for everyone.