Practice Area

Mediation, Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)


Mediation, Arbitration, Early Neutral Evaluation, Complex Case Facilitation, E-Discovery (ESI) and Special Master Services

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Mediation, Arbitration and ADR lawyers – Federal Court Approved.  Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is currently a very important part of lawsuits, litigation and settlement of disputes and it is an increasingly important part of the arsenal of trial lawyer tools for assisting clients with litigation of all kinds. In some jurisdictions in both Federal and State court, the Mediation, Arbitration, or Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) of disputes is mandatory. Traditional litigation and jury or bench trials in trial court, while many times necessary, are expensive and time consuming. Mediation, for example is a highly effective form of alternative dispute resolution – as a way to head off or shorten litigation through a negotiated settlement of claims. Arbitration comes in many forms, but is another way to have disputes decided by one arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators who sit in a binding or non-binding arbitration decision making, and dispute deciding process. Early Neutral Evaluation is used more in the Federal Courts as a form of guided dispute resolution, or as an introduction to a mediated settlement through use of a hired neutral attorney to evaluate the case for both sides.

Many contracts contain “Dispute Resolution Clauses” (DRC) or provisions which mandate the method by which the contracting parties will resolve disputes should one party accuse the other of contract breach down the road. These DRC provisions in contracts may specify mediation, or mediation followed by arbitration, or may specify that arbitration be conducted by, or pursuant to, the rules of the American Arbitration Association (AAA). Navigating the AAA or arbitration process in general can be complex if the business or dispute issues are large and clients need a skilled navigator or skilled and experienced neutral to handle these matters.

In the United States Federal District Courts in particular, the courts will sometimes appoint attorney Special Masters who are experienced in a particular legal discipline to serve as quasi- judges in presiding over certain parts of a case and making reports and recommendations to the trial judge for review, modification or approval. Special Masters or Neutrals can be privately retained as well to conduct mini-trials or summary jury trials either on a binding or non-binding basis or as a prelude to negotiation in more complex commercial cases. Special masters are usually appointed or retained in complex business or intellectual property matters and are frequently used in trademark and patent infringement matters and lawsuits. Special Masters are also used to preside over disputes between parties on electronic-discovery (e-discovery) matters or what are referred to in the federal rules as ESI disputes and ESI protocols. Modern litigation, particularly in the commercial and IP arenas, tend to have large document management issues and the federal courts in particular require parties to enter into protocols for management and exchange of Electronically Stored Information (ESI). These ESI protocols may govern the exchange of terabytes of data between the parties, which can equate to millions of pages of data – particularly email data. Henry Sneath, who chairs our IP practice and co-chairs our litigation practice has handled and managed these large data productions both in litigation case handling and as a federal court special master.

Approved for United States District Court Western District of Pennsylvania Panel of Neutrals – Special Master – ESI Master

Houston Harbaugh attorneys have guided many clients through perhaps thousands of mediations, arbitrations and early neutral evaluations and we have attorneys who serve as mediators, arbitrators, early neutral evaluators and court appointed special masters. Our firm is experienced in the ADR arena and we can guide clients through this process or be retained to serve as neutrals in litigation matters. We have counsels who have served as mediators, arbitrators and Special Masters.

Litigation shareholder Henry Sneath, who has been a party to hundreds of mediations and arbitrations, has been serving in recent years as a Federal Court appointed Special Master in complex patent infringement litigation between large corporations. He is included on the United States District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania (USDC WDPA) approved panel of neutrals for mediation, arbitration, early neutral evaluation (ENE) and work as a special master in ESI, business litigation, intellectual property including patent matters, trade secrets, employment, insurance and catastrophic injury matters. See: USDC WDPA Alternative Dispute Resolution. Mr. Sneath has also received certification in complex case mediation from the Harvard Law School’s Program On Negotiation (PON) which is taught by some of the leading academicians in the field of ADR from Harvard, MIT and Tufts University.

Litigation Shareholder Samuel H. Simon has been a party to more than 300 mediations and has acted as an arbitrator and a hearing officer concerning design professional disputes.

Houston Harbaugh’s Arbitration Services

Disputes frequently are submitted to arbitration as the result of pre-dispute arbitration provisions or clauses (DRC’s) found in contracts governing the relationships between parties or relating to specific transactions between them.  Such contractual provisions are interpreted broadly, consistent with the public policy in favor of arbitration, and are generally enforceable.  In addition, even in the absence of a pre-dispute arbitration provision, parties involved in a pending lawsuit or threatened litigation may agree to have the dispute decided by an arbitrator (or panel of arbitrators), rather than incurring the expenses and delays inherent in the litigation process. Our attorneys are qualified and available to serve as arbitrators in these situations including in business, employment, construction, intellectual property and estates and trusts litigation. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Mediation Lawyers | Arbitration | ADR Alternative Dispute Resolution

Houston Harbaugh’s Special Master and ESI Services

Special Masters help the Courts and litigating attorneys reach fair results more quickly, ultimately saving the parties money and conserving judicial resources.

A Good Special Master is:

Very Experienced in the particular area of law in dispute. Consistent in treating the parties equally, ethically and always while adhering to high legal standards. Open-minded to all parties’ arguments, and open-doored, easily accessible when needed by the parties. Honest and transparent in serving the parties and the Court without any hidden agenda. Excellent at listening, at understanding the law, and at resolving disputes. Respectful – practicing dispute resolution law and litigation is already hard enough; you deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

If you need help with complicated dispute resolution and motions practice, monitoring compliance with Court orders, mediating settlement, settlement claims administration, hard-fought discovery disputes, patent claim construction, or any other aspect of litigation resolution, contact Henry Sneath at 412-288-4013 or by email at