Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

The District Court of Maryland's Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Office provides mediation and settlement conferences for civil cases pending in many District Court locations. These ADR services are offered at no charge, either on the day of trial or before the trial date (Pre-Trial), through the District Court ADR Program.

About Mediation

Should you go to court or try mediation?

  • What is the appropriate process to resolve your dispute?
    See the chart below.
  • What might happen in court? What are the possible outcomes?
    You could win your case or lose your case.
  • Are you comfortable with personal information being discussed in public?
    Your case will be heard in open court.
  • How much time will it take and what will it cost to go to trial? To appeal a verdict? To resolve a countersuit?
    While the court makes every effort to maintain a schedule, delays may occur.
  • How difficult will it be to collect a judgment?
    The court does not collect a judgment on your behalf. It is your responsibility to collect the judgment.
  • Will a favorable judgment resolve the underlying problem?
    Even if you win in court, the problem may continue.
  • What is the appropriate process to resolve your dispute?

A Quick Comparison Between Court & Mediation




ProcessDirected by Judge.
Adversarial by nature.
Directed by you and others involved.
Cooperative by design.
 Decided by Judge.
You win or you lose.
Decided by you and all participants involved.
PrivacyNo privacy; discussion is a matter of public record.Privacy protected; discussion remains confidential (except as defined by court rule).
TimeScheduled at the convenience of court.
Process may be lengthy with multiple court dates.
Scheduled at a mutually agreeable time and place.
What happens in mediation?

In mediation, the participants in the dispute talk about the facts and underlying issues that may exist. The mediator helps the participants talk about their dispute. The participants may reach a resolution that they create together and that works for everyone in the dispute. Participants do not give up their legal rights; if an agreement is not reached, participants can still go to court.

Mediation lets you decide.

In mediation, you and the other participants decide how to resolve your dispute. The mediator does not act as a judge, give legal or other advice, give opinions, or suggest how issues should be resolved.

Mediation is voluntary.

All participants involved in the dispute must agree to try mediation. In mediation, if the participants cannot reach a solution that meets their needs, they cannot be forced to agree to anything. Anyone may end a mediation session at any time for any reason.

Mediation is confidential.

Mediation is a confidential process, which means the mediators will not testify about any mediation communications, and mediators are expected to keep information confidential. There are a few exceptions to mediator confidentiality, which include any reference to acts of child abuse, threats of harm to a person, or allegations of duress or fraud.

Why try mediation?

Mediation may:

  • save participants time and money
  • reduce stress
  • protect your privacy
  • help repair personal and/or business relationships
Want to know more?

Please click here if you want to learn more about the programs we offer.

Rev. 11/30/2023