The AAA just reported that 143,349 cases were filed with it in 2010. JAMS reports that approximately 10,000 cases are filed with it each year.
There were 190,543 new civil cases filed with all the U.S. District Courts in 2010.
In short, two of the largest ADR providers are currently handling almost as many civil cases as the nation’s federal courts.
Another point of comparison: the National Arbitration Forum had over 62,000 cases filed with it in two areas (domain name disputes and New Jersey personal injury cases), and Arbitration Forums, Inc. says it handles 500,000 insurance cases a year. In contrast, there were less than 200,000 civil cases filed in the State of Minnesota in 2010 (and only 42,136 if you exclude things like conciliation court matters and unlawful detainers).
If you needed any more convincing about why the statutes and case law governing arbitration are important to our nation’s overall system of justice, that should do it.