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The JAMS Story Celebrating 40 Years of Innovating and Re-Imagining ADR

The JAMS Story

For the past four decades, JAMS has been at the forefront of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), evolving and adapting to meet the needs of the legal industry as well as individuals and businesses operating in a changing landscape.

JAMS Turns 40

With 28 locations and nearly 400 panelists, JAMS is the largest private provider of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services worldwide. Offering a full range of custom-tailored solutions for every stage of conflict and specialized facilities, JAMS resolves thousands of business and legal disputes every year. Its roster of highly skilled panelists includes distinguished retired judges and former attorneys with expertise and experience covering dozens of industries and areas of law.

Driven by a core set of values—including neutrality, integrity, collegiality, collaboration, and diversity—JAMS has been an ADR leader that has driven innovation in the industry for four decades. Through its dedication to philanthropy, JAMS has also made substantial contributions to society and fostered future leaders in ADR.

The Beginning

JAMS and the world of ADR have come a long way over the last 40 years. When JAMS was founded in 1979, many in the legal community were unfamiliar with ADR. Even though ADR had been part of the American legal system for decades—the Federal Arbitration Act, for example, was enacted in 1925—it was still largely unknown and untested.

But JAMS founder Judge H. Warren Knight saw ADR’s massive potential. Serving on a superior court in Orange County, California, during the 1970s, Judge Knight witnessed firsthand how civil cases began clogging the courts and lengthening the time for a case to get to trial. The idea of an ADR service came to him while he was developing programs to alleviate the congestion.

When Judge Knight left the bench and launched JAMS from a friend’s law office in January 1979, he faced plenty of skeptics. Few believed that anyone would pay for services they could get for free through the courts.

But over time, JAMS emerged as a leading voice for ADR. Through countless conversations with lawyers and other members of the legal community, JAMS neutrals touted the benefits of ADR—its flexibility, speed and cost-efficiency, among others. JAMS neutrals also educated the business community, explaining how companies could choose their own neutrals and avoid the unpredictability of a jury.

Slowly, acceptance of ADR began to grow.

Domestic and Global Expansion

Although Judge Knight started JAMS as a solo practice, he always envisioned a larger operation. As ADR’s popularity grew, those plans came to fruition. Early in its history, JAMS was focused on becoming a statewide organization in California. In the 1980s, it expanded beyond its Orange County location to several other cities in California. By the 1990s, as ADR continued to gain traction, JAMS turned its attention eastward. Through outside investments and mergers, JAMS added facilities in New York; Boston; Washington, D.C.; and Chicago.

It was not an end to growth. Far from it. Led by President and CEO Chris Poole since 2007, JAMS has established locations in London and Canada, and formed alliances in Asia.

The company has not only increased its size, but has also expanded into new practice areas, including entertainment, sports, energy, engineering and construction.

Currently, JAMS operates in 28 locations worldwide.

JAMS Today and Tomorrow

Today, JAMS is synonymous with ADR. Through its industry-leading client service, JAMS has helped establish ADR around the world. Every day, ADR is used to settle disputes locally, nationally and globally. With courts facing overwhelming caseloads and the costs of traditional litigation rising, ADR is poised for continued growth.  

As the preeminent leader in ADR, JAMS has not stopped leading, innovating or growing. It remains focused on strengthening its core mediation and arbitration services while adding new practice areas and entering new markets. It is also dedicated to recruiting and retaining the most talented and diverse neutrals, and investing in their training.

Another priority for JAMS is giving back. Through the JAMS Foundation, it has backed programs around the world to promote ADR and to address some of the most complex disputes and social challenges. Through the Weinstein JAMS International Fellowship program, JAMS has also invested in the future leaders of ADR around the world.

ADR is dynamic and so is JAMS. By remaining dedicated to its core values, JAMS is poised to lead the industry for the next 40 years and beyond.  

Local Solutions. Global Reach. TM

JAMS successfully resolves business and legal disputes by providing efficient, cost-effective and impartial ways of overcoming barriers at any stage of conflict. JAMS offers customized dispute resolution services locally and globally through a combination of industry-specific experience, first-class client service, top-notch facilities and highly trained panelists.


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