When Marc Becker founded ADR Systems more than 23 years ago, the concept of dispute resolution was unknown in the Chicago legal community. It’s different today.
“Thinking about mediation, arbitration and other dispute resolution processes is necessary in the life of any case,” Marc said. “At some point, every case will be decided by a judge or settled out of court. I wanted to start a company to help people resolve their disputes. Twenty-five years ago, I had been involved in protracted litigation myself, and I found out there were better options.”
After his father’s death in 1991, Marc spent years tangled in litigation with his father’s business partner. A short time after the case settled, Marc spoke with some attorneys and discovered a procedure to resolve cases outside of court known as alternative dispute resolution.
“I had one book I kept from college from a business law class,” he said. “I cracked it open, and the first thing highlighted was the word ‘arbitration.’ I knew it was a sign.”
But first, he needed a name for his company. When developing the name, Marc knew he wanted ADR Systems to be recognized as a unique brand.
“Not every tissue is a Kleenex®, but if I asked someone to name one brand of tissue, they probably would say Kleenex®,” he said. “When people are talking about alternative dispute resolution, or ADR, the process itself, I want them to think ‘ADR Systems.’”
Marc included the word “systems” in the company name to refer to the overall process of ADR.
“It was the system we wanted to put in place that would help parties resolve disputes – it was a system to get both parties what they wanted, which was closure,” he said. “Combining ‘ADR’ with ‘systems’ just seemed natural.”
But what separates ADR Systems from its competitors is its unparalleled client experience.
“Clients aren’t numbers, they’re people, and we treat them as such,” Marc said. “We work with both sides to understand the case, and we can offer insight into which neutral is best-suited for the clients’ case and answer questions. Ultimately the client will decide on which neutral is most appropriate for their case. We do this so that our clients feel comfortable with every step in the process.”
That client experience is a driving force behind the company’s success.
“If people feel comfortable with process, they will come back,” Marc added. “We do our best to make the process as seamless as possible. We want our clients to see us more as friends rather than business associates – we’re here to help them through every step of the mediation or arbitration process.”
After setting a goal for the company, Marc needed a way to capture the attention of the legal community. When ADR Systems began to develop its brand, Marc came up with the slogan, “See you out of court®,” as a play on words for the commonly used phrase, “See you in court.”
“That’s the premise of our entire business,” he said. “It’s to keep people out of litigation to minimize exposure, risk and cost. It demonstrated the mission of ADR Systems.”
Another slogan Marc developed was “It’s easier to see eye to eye when you’re sitting face to face. ®”
“It’s easier to come to a settlement if both parties can be eye-to-eye with one another and communicate,” he said. “Our neutrals are skilled in facilitating negotiation in mediation. We bring parties together. That’s ultimately what ADR Systems exists to do.”
In 2014, ADR Systems underwent a rebranding to commemorate its 20th anniversary. However, these initial slogans remain a key component of the company’s brand today.
ADR Systems has grown every year since it was founded. But more importantly, Marc said it’s changed the way the legal community thinks about dispute resolution.
“People were resistant at first, but in 23 years, we’ve changed the landscape of how cases can be resolved outside of the courtroom, and that’s something to be proud of,” Marc said.
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At ADR Systems, It’s Settled.®