Neutral Spotlight: Nigel Wright


Whenever Nigel Wright prepares to arbitrate or mediate a case, he thinks about what he experienced on the other side of negotiations.

As head of claims at two international insurance carriers, as well as senior partner at two Am Law 100 firms in the United States and Great Britain, he found the hard work he was putting in on behalf of his clients wasn’t always reciprocated by some of the neutrals he encountered.

Regrettably, Nigel says, they “weren’t always prepared, and therefore weren’t ready to add value to the discussion.” Other times, it was obvious a mediator had biases.

“Even though you had this third party who was supposed to be helping you,” Nigel says, “often, I wasn’t really completely sure what they were bringing, except for a confidential environment in which you could actually have a discussion with the other side.”

Nigel knew there had to be a better way.

That’s one of the reasons he was drawn to practice arbitration and mediation through Alterity ADR. Nigel knew founder and CEO Marcie Dickson through a prior mediation practice and was inspired by her startup’s philosophy of #GreatADR.

“The reason that I was drawn to Alterity was the shared belief that arbitration and mediation can be better,” Nigel says. “And by better, I mean having mediators who did the work required before the day of the mediation and were also truly neutral – it’s of critical importance.”

Through Alterity, and in his prior practices, Nigel has mediated extensively across the globe and specializes in casualty, coverage, all aspects of insurance, reinsurance and subrogation cases. Nigel also lectures on ADR at Emory Law School in Atlanta, as an adjunct professor.

At the cornerstone of Nigel’s success is his belief that #GreatADR starts with preparation.

“It’s the secret sauce,” he says. “You can get a mediator to do it for a lower rate, but the chance of them having read and understood the documentation, and put the work in beforehand, talked to the parties, and made sure that they understand the parties’ positions before going into the actual mediation is not high.”

“You might receive a brief and may not understand it. Well, did you phone up the other side? What do you or don’t understand? If something seems obvious to them, it may not be obvious to you because you haven’t heard the history or background. Make sure you do that beforehand. I think that’s the first thing that good mediators do when instructed.”

Along with being prepared, Nigel wants to show the parties in his ADR cases that he will listen to them, they can trust him to be neutral, and he is working as hard as he can to resolve their matter.

To Nigel, while interpersonal skills are important in ADR, parties will find more value if they are matched with a mediator who has the right technical skills and has maintained their credentials in that area of expertise.

“Ultimately, even if you have eight hours where you really don’t like the mediator, if they get a result that is acceptable to your client (at least in part because of what the mediator brings), and your client wants to accept that, then they’ve done their job,” Nigel says. “That’s what you’re paying them for.”

Nigel also believes in another aspect to a great mediation or arbitration: Each party learns something about the strengths or weaknesses of their case that affects their assessment of the risk or reward of continuing litigation.

“As a party, that was the only thing I cared about,” Nigel says.

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