Civil disputes can feel overwhelming and confusing, especially if you don’t know where to start or how to handle your case. That’s why when dealing with a complex legal dispute, it’s essential to have the right information and tools to make informed decisions about your case. Here, we’ll cover the four primary methods for resolving a civil dispute: Negotiation, litigation, arbitration, and mediation. With this information, you’ll be able to take the first steps toward what’s best for you. 


Negotiation is the simplest and primary way that two parties will settle their differences. It allows both parties to speak directly to one another, but the goal is to voice grievances and come together to find a solution. 

Negotiations are informal, nonstructured, and inexpensive. You can negotiate anywhere — in a public setting or at your home. 

You may also hire an attorney to speak on your behalf, which may be a good idea if it’s an emotional, complex, or financial-based case. Because attorneys have years of expertise handling civil suits, they can help negotiate the best deal possible. 

Remember that during a negotiation, both parties must remain calm and not speak over the other person. The goal here is to find a solution that works for everyone — but if things get too emotional, then mediation may be a better option.


Mediation is an excellent option if the conflicting parties cannot resolve the dispute alone. When this happens, they’ll call in a mediator. Mediators are not there to help one side win over the other; instead, they facilitate the negotiation between the parties fairly. 

This method benefits those who don’t want to go to court since there are flexible options. Settlements can be quickly settled within mediation instead of sitting through the civil court with a judge. It’s a standard method for familial, business, and injury disputes. 

Mediations are about staying cooperative and fair: The conversation is controlled to an extent while still giving you the creative freedom to present your case. 

Since you’ll need to bring in a third party, this private meeting will cost money out-of-pocket — but it is much cheaper than going to court. 


Arbitration is a unique method that brings in an impartial person – the arbitrator – to decide for the conflicting parties. 

Arbitrators are often confused with mediators, but their roles are incredibly different. Mediators are impartial third party that helps drive the conversation and keep it fair. In contrast, arbitrators act like a judge and will decide the parties’ fates based on the information presented to them. 

Even with this heavy responsibility, using an arbitrator is a much cheaper option compared to court litigation. Plus, the process is quite similar: Both parties will get to present their stories, evidence, and testimonies.

You can hire the arbitrator privately, but most lawyers can act as arbitrators. This is an excellent option because you know you’re getting somebody familiar with the law. In fact, many corporations rely on attorneys as arbitrators in personal injury and workplace injury cases to avoid going to court or trial. 


Litigation means that your case is going to court. Your case will be presented in the courtroom and rely on the civil justice system to resolve the dispute.

Litigation starts when one or both parties file a lawsuit in court. This may include presenting evidence, discovery, depositions, and appearing in court several times. If at this point, the parties still can’t agree, the lawyers will turn the case into a trial with a jury. 

This formal proceeding allows for a complete examination of the case and all of the issues between the parties. The prosecution and defense will gather more evidence and testimonies to present to the jury. A trial can take anywhere between a few weeks to a few years, depending on the severity of the case. 

This formal structure is public, meaning people can sit in, and the records are unsealed. Litigation can also get expensive, especially if you lose. That’s why it’s essential to work with an experienced team of lawyers who are experienced in your case subject and will work tirelessly for your side. 

Hickey & Hull Law Partners Can Help You Today 

It doesn’t matter if you’re at the beginning of your journey or don’t know where to go next. With decades of combined experience, the passionate team at Hickey & Hull Law Partners has seen it all and can help you today. 

With an expert focus on family law, criminal law, injury suits, and estate law, Hickey & Hull’s passionate team won’t stop working until we get the outcome you desire. 

Call us today or fill out our online form if you have questions or want to start immediately. Our River Valley office number is 479.434.2414, and our Northwest Arkansas number is 479.802.6560.

In the River Valley:
502 Garrison Avenue
Fort Smith, AR 72901
Phone: (479) ‍434-2414
Fax: (479) ‍434-2415

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In Little Rock:
124 W. Capitol Avenue Suite 870
Little Rock, AR 72201
Phone: (479) ‍434-2414
Fax: (479) ‍434-2415

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In Russellville: 

127 East 3rd Street
Russellville, Arkansas 72801

Phone: (479) ‍434-‍2414
Fax: (479) ‍434-‍2415



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In Northwest Arkansas:
409 W. Poplar Street
Rogers, AR 72756
Phone: (479) ‍802-6560
Fax: (479) ‍802-6561

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