Inside Arbitration: How an Arbitrator Decides Labor and Employment Cases

This treatise helps both lawyer and nonlawyer advocates understand what goes on in the mind of an arbitrator during every step of the arbitration process. In question-and-answer format and based in part on real questions submitted by practicing advocates, the book covers issues such as selecting an arbitrator, prehearing scheduling, conferences, and disclosures, selecting witnesses, preparing and presenting documentary evidence, how the arbitrator drafts an opinion, drafting post-hearing briefs, and the emerging field of employment arbitration and how it differs from labor arbitration.

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A companion volume to How to Prepare and Present a Labor Arbitration Case.

Although information on arbitration—opinions, awards, and analysis of substantive and procedural issues—fills hundreds of volumes, no book until now has focused solely on how an arbitrator goes about reaching a decision. Inside Arbitration: How an Arbitrator Decides Labor and Employment Cases, written in a question-and-answer format, candidly explains what goes on in the mind of an arbitrator throughout the arbitration process, something that is not revealed in written opinions or traditional analysis.

Inside Arbitration helps both lawyer and nonlawyer advocates with all levels of experience better understand the arbitration process from a seasoned arbitrator’s viewpoint and to improve their skills in using that process. It also provides insights that are useful for arbitrators in reviewing their own practices. Based in part on real questions submitted by practicing advocates, this book offers answers based on the author’s extensive experience as an arbitrator and the experiences of fellow arbitrators. Inside Arbitration presents detailed information on issues such as:  

  • Researching and selecting an arbitrator
  • Prehearing scheduling, conferences, and disclosures
  • Selecting and presenting witnesses
  • Preparing and presenting documentary evidence
  • How the arbitrator drafts an opinion
  • Drafting and submitting post-hearing briefs 

Inside Arbitration includes a full chapter on the emerging field of employment arbitration, comparing and contrasting it with traditional labor arbitration procedure, as well as a chapter on mediation.

Sample Questions from the book*

  1. Does the arbitrator keep track of wins and losses for each party and try to make them balance over time?
  2. Should the arbitrator apply a presumption of arbitrability when this issue is raised?
  3. What do arbitrators want to hear in opening statements?
  4. Is there any truth to the lore among parties that arbitrators always already know their decision by the end of the hearing?
  5. To what extent do briefs make a difference in the arbitrator’s decision?
  6. How does the arbitrator go about making a decision?
  7. What is the difference between mediation and arbitration?

*Additional questions may be submitted to the author for inclusion in future editions.


Bloomberg Law authors and editors are practicing professionals with insider perspectives and real-life experience. Learn more about this book’s authors and editors.
Roger I. Abrams is the Richardson Professor of Law at Northeastern University School of Law in Evanston, IL. Prior to entering academic life, Professor Abrams practiced labor law in Boston at Foley Hoag & Eliot and clerked for Judge Frank M. Coffin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. The author of numerous books and law review articles, Professor Abrams is the permanent arbitrator at Walt Disney World, the Internal Revenue Service, and the U.S. Customs Service. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Arbitrators and the American Law Institute, a life member of the American Bar Foundation, and a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society.


View full tables of contents and read the book’s preface or introduction.


Read what others have to say about this Bloomberg Law book.

"Roger Abrams’ Inside Arbitration: How an Arbitrator Decides Labor and Employment Cases is a book I wish I’d had the capacity and time to write. It is a sophisticated insider’s view of the arbitral process and the legal and practical contexts in which it operates. I recommend it as a must-read for students, advocates, successful arbitrators, and new practitioners alike."

John E. Sands

Arbitrator, Mediator, and President, The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers

"Reading Abrams is like having a lively, informative conversation with one of our foremost chroniclers of the development of labor arbitration. Only now he’s willing to share his blunt, revealing answers to all the questions you might ever have had about the way arbitrators actually decide cases—and even tells you what questions to ask."

Theodore J. St. Antoine

Degan Professor Emeritus of Law, University of Michigan Law School

“[T]his volume represents the first time that the process by which an arbitrator reaches a decision has been described in detail.”

Kendall F. Svengalis

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