Expediency and economy are the great benefits of the arbitral process. One of its most important components is the initial or preliminary conference with an arbitrator whether it is a tri-panel or party arbitration. Advance communication between counsel and an initiative-taking arbitrator are essential for achieving the goal of a fair, efficient, and economical resolution of the dispute.

The arbitrator, upon his appointment, should issue a written directive in advance of the initial conference. This should set forth an agenda to be discussed. It should encourage counsel to engage in a collaborative process from the outset for the purpose of streamlining the proceedings. This will be affected by the type of case and its complexity. No one can anticipate all the issues that should be addressed at the initial conference, however both the arbitrator and counsel should do their best to do so. The arbitrator may always defer issues and address them at a later stage of the proceeding.