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Thoughts on how to settle disputes and resolve complex situations.

What’s Next?


Twenty-five years ago today I walked across the stage, took my diploma, and turned to Dallas to start my legal career.  A big firm I loved promised training, trial experience, and more, and I was lucky enough to get all three.  Today’s young negotiators aren’t quite so fortunate, and I want to do something about that.

This section of is where I’ll openly explore what’s next in mediation, arbitration, and settlement negotiation — because where we go depends on the path we take.

A Fork in the Road.  In 2008 I launched with a post entitled “Why Are We Here?”  I began that effort with a need that’s even greater now than it was then:

Today’s associates have to work harder than ever to develop their negotiation skills. When I began my career in 1990, the partners I worked for asked me to sit in on speakerphone-moderated settlement conferences, to attend face-to-face settlement meetings, and to participate in mediations (a relatively unproven concept at the time). I was lucky, even then. Today, younger lawyers — and their clients — live with the results of others’ settlement discussions, but their participation is second hand if they get to participate at all. Cell phone settlement talks and email “conversations” by definition exclude the rest of the team from real-time involvement in resolving disputes. While today’s motivated young lawyers have to learn how and why the discussions unfolded the way they did after the fact, I believe additional perspectives on the settlement process can only help.

The trends I saw in 2008 have continued unchecked, and ADR has become more passive than ever.  Clients rarely push to get to mediation, arbitration is more often avoided than embraced, and few believe that anything new has happened in ADR in 25 years. 

It doesn’t have to be that way.  Mediation and arbitration can do more, and — if we explain how — clients and counsel will help us return ADR to the promise it once was.

Choosing an Alternate Path.  It sounds simple, but it’s true:  The best way to spend less on litigation is to have less litigation.  This site, and much of my career, is dedicated to making sure we get there. 

I hope you will come back to this section often as we explore tips and techniques to get to settlement faster, better and cheaper, including:

  • Pre-Litigation Mediation — Is it Ever too Early?
  • How to “Settle Halfway” — And Why You Might Want To
  • Arbitration Efficiency — Oxymoron or Realistic Goal?
  • Decision Trees in Mediation
  • Mediator’s Proposals — When and How?

You’ll be glad you did.

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