October 2013

Greetings:

Below is the October 2013 edition of Resolution Strategies, an updated version of the edition originally published in October 2008, which has been retitled Value Judgment. As always, please share it with others you know who might find it to be of interest.   

TWO UPCOMING SCMA PROGRAMS FOR ATTORNEYS 

This coming Wednesday, October 2, 2013, I will be moderating a joint program presented by the Beverly Hills Bar Association (BHBA) and the Southern California Mediation Association (SCMA) titled "Resolving Cases Without The Court's ADR Program -- What Do Lawyers Do Now?" Featuring distinguished neutrals from ADR Services, Agency for Dispute Resolution, ARC, CEDRS, JAMS, Judicate West, PMA and an independent neutral, the panel will discuss: The State of Mediation Today; How to Initiate Mediation Without Compromising Leverage; The Timing of Mediation, Keys to Selecting the Best Mediator for Your Case; and Preparing for Mediation. For those who choose to forego MCLE credit, there is NO CHARGE for this program; for those who prefer to receive 1.5 hours of MCLE credit, the cost is $35. The program is scheduled from 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm, at the offices of BHBA, located at 9420 Wilshire Boulevard, Second Floor. Parking is available at 241 N. Canon Drive, with the first 2 hours free. For additional information, or to register for the program, click here.

On Saturday, November 2, 2013, SCMA will be hosting its Annual Conference, at Pepperdine. This year, for the first time, the program will include an "Advocacy Track," designed to help attorneys achieve better results for their clients in the mediation process. For more information, or to register for the program, click here.

CHARITY OF THE MONTH

Last week, an attorney who prefers to remain anonymous requested that I donate a portion of the mediation fee to the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation, whose mission is to "enhance the quality of life for burn survivors and promote burn prevention education." For more information about this worthy cause, please visit www.aarbf.org.

Best regards . . . 

FJS

VALUE JUDGMENT

[The following is an updated and retitled version of the October 2008 edition of Resolution Strategies]

Looking back at the nearly seven hundred mediations in which I’ve been involved -- the first hundred or so as advocate and now approaching six hundred as mediator -- I can only think of a handful that were not of value to the parties. I certainly don't mean to suggest that most mediations in which I've been involved have resulted in a global settlement by the end of the day. However, even those mediations which did not result in resolution almost always proved to be of meaningful and discernible value -- not only in my judgment, but in the judgment of the participants as well -- because they enabled the parties to thereafter make more informed decisions about strategy and risk.

In some instances, progress made during mediation paved the way for resolution down the road. In some instances, information gathered during mediation clarified the real issues in dispute, making it possible for the parties to then focus their attention solely on the further discovery and investigation that were truly necessary. In some instances, negotiations conducted during mediation made it possible for some of the parties to thereafter carve out piecemeal settlements. And in some instances, mediation verified what was suspected but not yet confirmed -- that the other side’s position left no choice but to take the case to trial.

I've heard litigants and lawyers complain -- sometimes bitterly -- that a particular mediation was worthless because the parties failed to reach a resolution. In my judgment, those who approach mediation with such a mindset overlook the value inherent in the process itself. And, again in my judgment, those who pack up and leave at the first sign of impasse squander an invaluable opportunity to gain critical information about the positions -- and personalities -- of the opposing parties and their counsel.

If you engage in mediation recognizing that the process itself has intrinsic value, settlement or no settlement, it's substantially less likely you will have to face what may be the least welcome judgment of all -- an adverse judgment.

As always, it would be my pleasure to assist you and your clients in the dispute resolution process.  Please don't hesitate to contact me if I can be of service.  

Best regards,

Floyd J. Siegal