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What is Arts Arbitration and Mediation Services?

Arts Arbitration and Mediation Services (AAMS), a program of California Lawyers for the Arts (CLA), has provided alternative dispute resolution to artists and entertainers since 1980.  AAMS was the first alternative dispute resolution program in the country to specifically tailor its services for the arts and entertainment communities, as a natural extension of the organization's mission to provide preventative education and appropriate means of self help for artists, who often become involved in business arrangements without being fully informed of the legal consequences.

CLA established a special alternative dispute resolution program for the arts after noticing that disputes involving artists, performers and arts organizations, while varied in legal content, may revolve around a set of central themes which would be foreign in the contexts of other dispute resolution programs. Recurring themes include the emotional issues involved with the content of artistic work, credit for work performed and the factors contributing to the production of the work.

What type of services does it provide?
AAMS provides counseling, conciliation, mediation, arbitration, meeting facilitation, and training. The service has program coordinators at offices in Berkeley 510-990-6030, Los Angeles 310-207-0001 and Sacramento 916-442-6210 who help artists throughout the state. These program coordinators counsel clients in the use of negotiation techniques in order to help them resolve the dispute for themselves, offer conciliation assistance by communicating between parties by telephone, mail, or fax, and coordinate mediations by setting up a meeting at a neutral site with trained mediators or coordinate arbitrations in accordance with the rules of California Code of Civil Procedure and rules created by the AAMS Advisory Committee. However, AAMS program coordinators are neutral and cannot give legal advice or representation.

What kind of disputes does it mediate?
While disputes with AAMS are generally arts-related, the organization's volunteer mediators have helped parties resolve many types of disputes. AAMS has helped parties resolve disputes involving landlord-tenant issues, payment or credit for work performed, ownership of artistic work or copyright, collaboration or partnership issues and fee collection.

See online form below to request assistance today!

Please Note: AAMS staff are not available to give legal advice.  Also, they cannot review completed arbitration forms for accuracy. If you wish to arrange a consultation with an attorney, you may contact the Lawyer Referral Service of California Lawyers for the Arts at 888-775-8995.

How are mediation sessions started?
Most cases are initiated when one party informs AAMS staff of the dispute, requests AAMS to contact the second party, and pays the case opening fee. AAMS contacts the second party in order to explain the mediation process and invites them to consider it as a method for resolving the dispute. Once AAMS obtains the parties' consent to schedule a mediation session, AAMS works with them to clarify the issues to be discussed, establishes agreement about who will attend and notifies the parties and mediators as to the date and time of the session. After the mediation session, AAMS follows up each party and sends them an evaluation form.

How much does it cost?
AAMS mediation fees are determined and paid individually with each party. As AAMS is a nonprofit organization with volunteer involvement, fees are based on a low sliding scale depending on the household or organizational income. Please see our Fee Schedule below.

More AAMS information:
Arbitration Defined
Mediation Defined
Fee Schedule
AAMS sample clauses for contracts
Other AAMS resources 
(National and California resources)

AAMS services provided in Los Angeles County are made possible through major support from the Los Angeles County Department of Community and Senior Services through the California Dispute Resolution Programs Act. 

Interested in joining our mediator panel?
All prospective mediator panelists must fill out an online questionnaireor downloaded a paper version in Word or PDF format.  To join, please send your application questionnaire and a resume to:

  • San Francisco Bay Area mediator panel, please send the questionnaire by fax to 510-201-9957 or by email.  
  • Sacramento Area mediator panel please send the questionnaire by fax to 916-441-1170 or by email.
  • Southern California Area panel please send the questionnaire by email.
Please see our events calendar for upcoming AAMS trainings, and to receive information about training, sign up for our mailing list below.


California Lawyers for the Arts is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit and your donation is tax deductible as a charitable contribution to the fullest extent of the law. 

The information provided on this website is not legal advice. You should consult with an attorney for individual advice regarding your legal matters.

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