Dispute Review Board and Standing Neutral Experience

Jim has served as a dispute review board member or single standing neutral on a number of railway, power plant, highway and hotel projects throughout the United States.  He has long been a practitioner, participant and advocate of the use of DRBs and other forms of Standing Neutral on construction projects and in other business relationships. 

He has done much writing and speaking on the workings of DRBs and Standing Neutrals, including:

  • Jobsite Dispute Resolution in Preventing and Resolving Construction Disputes, CPR, 1991.
  • The Role of Jobsite Dispute Resolution in Improving the Chances for Success on a Construction Project, 13 Construction Lawyer 21, 1992 (with co-author William R. Wildman).
  • Major contributor to a landmark research study of the use of dispute review boards on commercial projects conducted by the Construction Industry Institute:  Dispute Prevention and Resolution: Alternative Dispute Resolution in Construction with Emphasis on Dispute Review Boards, CII Source Document 95, 1993 (Principal author, Professor Michael C. Vorster.)
  • Dispute Review Boards:  Backdoor Partnering, presented at the Construction Leadership Conference, 1993, and reprinted at 75 Contractor Magazine 22, 1993
  • Contributor to Construction Dispute Review Board Manual, McGraw-Hill, 1996
  • Jobsite Dispute Control Methods and the Continental Divide of Dispute Resolution, International Construction Law and Dispute Resolution Conference, Salzburg, Austria, Center for International Legal Studies, 1998.
  • Stop Construction Industry Disputes Before They Arise:  Jobsite Dispute Control Methods, CONEXPO Conference, 1999
  • Dispute Review Boards Here and Overseas, ABA Section of Dispute Resolution, 2001
  • Real Time Dispute Resolution Devices, Global Construction Superconference, London,2001
  • A Comparison of Dispute Review Boards and Adjudication, 18 International Construction Law Review 275, 2002 (with co-authors Robert A. Rubin and Bettina Quintas). 
  • Speaker on the subject of “Project Neutrals” at the ABA Forum on the Construction Industry Program on the New Consensus.DOCs, 2008
  • The Standing Neutral:  a ‘Real Time’ Resolution Procedure that also Can Prevent Disputes, Alternatives 181, International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution, December 2009
  • “Real Time” Prevention and Resolution of Construction Disputes, Dispute Resolution Journal May-October 2010 p. 128.
  • How and Why the Standing Neutral Dispute Prevention and Resolution Technique Can Be Applied, Alternatives 180, International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution, November 2011 (with co-author Kurt L. Dettman).
  • Contributor on the subject of Standing Neutrals to The Vested Outsourcing Manual, Kate Vitasek et al., Palgrave Macmillan 2011


A notable assignment:

One of Jim’s particularly innovative Standing Neutral assignments was serving in the role of the “Development Arbitrator” on a hotel development project, part of a mixed-use real estate development with a construction cost of over $2 billion.  The process that was designed for that project is a variation of the Standing Neutral/DRB process which included an initial fast-track mediation followed if necessary by immediate binding arbitration using a “baseball arbitration” technique, guaranteeing that no dispute would go unresolved for more than 30 days.  Under the watchful eye of the Development Arbitrator, during the 30-month project duration, the parties resolved every potential dispute by themselves without having to refer a single dispute to the Development Arbitrator, and the project was completed on time and within budget.