Litigated Cases

Wanting to talk settlement doesn’t make you look weak – being afraid to talk settlement makes you look weak. Hon. Robert H. Alsdorf

Settlement Conferences

When you know the case can settle and it should.  It’s ready – everything’s been done except final prep and the trial.  But negotiations haven’t gotten you there yet.  A mediator who knows the litigation you’re in can help you close the gap.

Early Mediation

Sometimes there’s opportunity for a settlement early on, but the parties are already getting entrenched.  You know that chance will soon be gone if you go much further down the litigation path.  But it may be hard to see how you can bring up the subject of settlement without making it worse.

This is where a neutral mediator can make all the difference.  I can help you engage the other side and start those discussions to take advantage of those early settlement opportunities.

Avoid Conflicts of Interest – Bring in a Mediator

The clients have all come to you for help because you’re the “company’s lawyer” or “the family lawyer:” estate planning across generations, family-business succession planning, closely-held business reorganization , or dealing with estate issues in probate.  No one’s talking lawsuits — not yet — but if it isn’t handled well you know it could come to that.

You see where the solution could be, but you’re concerned that if you head them that way the other parties may wrongly think you’re acting as their lawyer, too.

You’re concerned about concurrent conflicts of interest, but things could easily get out of hand if you refer some of them to other other lawyers.  Or they’ve made it clear they don’t want to spend that kind of money.  And you’ve looked at the minefield that is common representation under RPC 1.7 and you just don’t want to go there.  You risk losing them all as clients.

This is another place where a neutral mediator can help.  A mediator who understands the legal situation the parties are in can direct the conversation, work among them all and manage the negotiations.  You get to stay the lawyer, doing what you do best:  representing your client, focusing on the legal rights and responsibilities, advising on options, explaining the alternatives, crafting the structures and implementing the solution.   You’ve taken a sticky situation, kept the client, avoided litigation, worked out a solution, and helped the clients manage their professional fees.

Mediation of Difficult Cases

Some cases you see at the start are going to be tough.  Whatever happens you know your client just isn’t going to be happy with the outcome.  And you may suspect they won’t be happy with you either.  Maybe it’s already bitterly contentious – even disproportionately so.  It may be the kind of case where at the end of it all you’ll wish you could give the fees back.  Any other time you’d just refer them on, but this time, for whatever reason, that won’t work here.

Some cases start out okay but later they take a turn.  You worked and developed the case and have a pretty good idea where the settlement lies, but now your client doesn’t seem to be listening to your reasonable advice.  Or the other client is acting unreasonably.  Or the other lawyer.  Rational thought seems to have flown out the window and emotions are ruling the day.

Difficult cases may be well-suited for early mediation.

They’re difficult for a reason.  But they’re situations our legal system doesn’t deal with very well.  They need a different approach, one that broadens the discussion to include important considerations beyond the law, but that also affirms the important role of lawyers’ legal advice and representation.

That’s the different approach I use.  It’s the value I can bring to you and your clients.

Joint Sessions and Caucus

You may have heard I use joint sessions a lot.  Maybe that concerns you, because in your experience you’ve found that they aren’t constructive.  Many mediators don’t know how to manage them and haven’t been trained in it.  Working in joint sessions doesn’t come naturally — it requires knowledge, training, patience and experience.

I also work in caucus (or “shuttle”).  For some issues, it’s hard to beat the power of having an intermediary involved in confidential discussions with both sides.  That’s a value that no allied advisor — one with a duty of loyalty — can provide.

When to caucus?  When to meet in joint session?  It depends on the case.  I won’t squeeze you, your clients or your case into my preconceived notions about what you need.  What you’ll get from me is an approach to resolve the situation in the way you need it resolved.

Interest-Based Mediation

Have you wanted to focus your legal skills on crafting creative, innovative solutions for your clients instead of preparing for trial?  Does it no longer make sense to you that you have to use the threat of trial to leverage settlements in most of your cases?  Tired of clients using you to continue fighting with each other?  Wish you had another tool in your lawyers’ toolbox besides the litigation hammer?

You have options.  The earlier in the dispute the more options there are, and the less expensive they are for your clients.  You solve their situation faster and cheaper.  You get to be the hero.  Sound like a prescription for referrals?

Give me a call, drop me a note and let’s talk about it.

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