Orange-Based Dispute Resolution Firm Agrees to Merger


Judicial Arbitration & Mediation Services Inc., the nation's largest provider of alternative dispute resolution, said Thursday that it has reached a tentative agreement to merge with a Washington mediation company in a stock swap.

The merger of JAMS and Endispute, expected to be completed in early June, would create a company with 300 retired and former judges and other mediators and 175 support staffers. The companies had combined revenue last year of $40 million.

The name and the headquarters of the merged entity are still to be determined, spokesman Dan McCue said. JAMS, formed by former Orange County Superior Court Judge H. Warren Knight, is based in Orange.

JAMS and Endispute, both privately held, have been the biggest providers in a growing market that uses former judges to hear civil cases--often lawsuits assigned to them by courts with the permission of all parties.

The merged company would cover all the major markets in nine states and would try to work with corporations before they file lawsuits in resolving disputes, said Jack Unroe, JAMS chief executive, who would take the same post with the merged firm.

"We view corporations as prime customers, and we are trying to make dispute resolution a component of their business strategy," Unroe said. "The ever-increasing demand from corporate America drives our national strategy."

He said that JAMS remains committed to its ultimate goal of offering stock publicly. But he did not say when that might occur.

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