"What if Brown v. Board of Education had gone to arbitration? We wouldn't know about it," she said. "It might have covered one school district if the proponents of desegregation won but it certainly wouldn't have set a national precedent. It wouldn't have set any kind of precedent at all."
Aside from issues of legal precedent, there is also -- more importantly, for some -- the issue of final monetary awards.
Lorenzana's lawyer, Tuckner, and others believe that a jury would award more cash for damages than an arbitrator.
But Sherwyn and Blomgren Bingham agree that it's difficult to reach an overarching conclusion on who is likely to give bigger awards because each case is unique and hard to compare to any other. How do you, for instance, compare the results of a weak employment claim that went to arbitration and a strong employment claim that went to court?
"At the end of the day, we put all the stuff together and we try to judge wins, losses and awards, but there are always different cases," Sherwyn said.
Disputes that begin in arbitration do sometimes find their way to court. An employee can appeal an arbitrator's opinion if there is reason to believe the employer's arbitration process somehow didn't comply with various standards set in U.S. case law, Blomgren Bingham said.
In 1999, for instance, an appeals court ruled that the restaurant chain Hooters could not force a former employee to take her sexual discrimination claim to arbitration because Hooters had "set up a dispute resolution process utterly lacking in the rudiments of even-handedness," according to the court ruling.
Among the court's concerns: that Hooters had too much control over the selection of an arbitrator and that it could change the arbitration rules at without disclosing that to employees.
Other reasons that arbitration cases end up in court involve allegations of collusion or fraud, Blomgren Bingham said. But, she added, courts won't overturn arbitration decisions if the only arguments for it are that the arbitrator himself made an error with respect to the law or a fact.
"The standards of review are very, very limited," she said.
For now, Tuckner is working with Citigroup to choose an arbitrator and has hope that the arbitration will yield an award for Lorenzana.
"She still has a case," he said.