Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jan 26, 2011

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You usually only need to find one arbitrator to hear a case. Sometimes an arbitration agreement (or the rules of an association that are incorporated by reference in the agreement) will provide for three or more neutral arbitrators. There are always an odd number of arbitrators so that a decision can be made by a majority. In some cases, a “tripartite” arbitration panel is used. In tripartite arbitration each party picks its own party-appointed arbitrator and the two party-appointed arbitrators choose a neutral third arbitrator.

An arbitrator plays the same roll as a trial court judge. They listen to the case and make a final decision. When there are more than one arbitrator required, they will each reach their own independent decision and then whoever has the majority vote will be the prevailing party.

If you are given the discretion of selecting the arbitrator or of choosing one of the three arbitrators, there are many ways to determine if they will be more favorable to your side. First, inquire about the arbitrator’s experience. Most arbitrators are retired judges or attorneys. If the arbitration proceeding will deal with highly specialized information, then locate an arbitrator who is familiar with your area of law. If you are still at a loss for choosing an arbitrator, consult with your attorney about your choice. Remember that the arbitration proceeding will be handled like a trial, so it only makes sense that you proceed with an attorney. The legal community in cities is quite small and attorneys will usually know who a favorable arbitrator may be. Finally, if you are planning on going with a retired judge arbitrator, run a search for them online. See what types of cases they listened to as a judge and perhaps even if there are any comments about how they responded to cases.