How to Get Your Opponent to the Bargaining Table
Lawyers ask me this question more often than any other. This week's Blawg Review Host -- TechnoLawyer -- reminded me that I once wrote a very short article on the topic -- contained in the TechnoLawyer Problem Solution Guide available again at the Blawg Review No. 152 here.
Using Your Case Management Order or ADR Panel to Convene Your Mediation
- long ago indicated their client would not consider paying/accepting anything less/or more than $X, which is a non-starter;
- say they won’t consider settlement until after some key event; or,
- insist their client will “pay millions for defense but not a penny in tribute.”
The best way to encourage settlement discussions without any loss of face is to agree upon a mediator (or mediation services provider such as Southern California’s Judicate West) at the commencement of the case, authorizing the neutral to suggest mediation at any time without prompting by the parties. This is the general practice in most multi-party construction defect cases and there's no good reason to limit the benefits of this practice to complex litigators.
This strategy permits one party to suggest mediation to the neutral who can then initiate a negotiation session without divulging who, if anyone, sought the mediator’s assistance.
Any mediator worth her salt will be trained in and skilled at convening mediations without party pressure.
Some, but not all, mediation service providers also possess these skills. Judicate West’s case managers, for instance, are all skilled professionals with a minimum of five-year’s experience convening mediations for the parties.
At the commencement of your action, ascertain whether a neutral or ADR service provider in your locale specializes in the art of convening. A service provider like Judicate West will often know more about your opposition than you do, particularly in large legal markets like Southern California where you may well not “do business” with your opponent on more than one occasion.