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Victoria Pynchon

As the co-founder of She Negotiates Consulting and Training, I offer my services as a keynote speaker, trainer and consultant....

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She Negotiates

She Negotiates

The 33 cent wage and income gap is unacceptable and unnecessary. So is the cliché glass ceiling. Bottom line, our...

Negotiating a New Economic Paradigm

"You Park Like an Asshole" ~ How Not to Commence Negotiations

book.jpgPriming Legal Negotiations is the winner of this week's Golden Asshole Award. /*  An autographed copy of A is for Asshole, the Grownups' ABCs of Conflict Resolution will be winging its way to author Carrie Sperling, Executive Director of the Arizona Justice Project today!  Excerpt below.  Full article at the link.  

Thanks to the Legal Writing Prof Blog for the head's up.

As I left for work one crisp, sunny April morning, I spotted a five-by-seven printed form on my car’s front windshield. The form’s message proclaimed, in large, bold letters, “youparklikeanasshole.” The form had a checklist of infractions like “two spots, one car,” “that’s a compact?” and “over the painted lines.”The bottom of the printed form said,

Parking is far too limited in our overcrowded streets and parking lots, and you happened to park like an asshole. Go to the above web site to see why someone else thought you parked like an asshole. Don’t be too offended, we all do it one time or another—it just so happens you got caught.

My next-door neighbor, who evidently put the note on my car, listed my infraction as “other” with a follow-up explanation written by hand: “You are parking too close to my garage. It’s hard for me to pull my truck in.” I studied the note for a few moments. I felt my heart start to pound and my whole body became uncomfortably warm. I wadded the note and tossed it. I was angry. When I arrived at work twenty minutes later, I was still angry. I told my co-workers about the note.

They all agreed with me; it was rude and inappropriate.

When I returned home that evening, I visited with neighbors who were not complaining about my parking. I showed them the note, now crumpled and dirty. They, too, became angry. One neighbor suggested exacting revenge on the note’s author by letting the air out of his tires. Another neighbor excitedly suggested something involving Crisco. Although I am a trained mediator, I became giddy about the prospect of getting even.

Perhaps it was a moment of self reflection that led me to question why I was even thinking of revenge. But that written demand evoked intense emotions in me and in my neighbors. We did not care about investigating appropriate responses or attempting to resolve the problem; we wanted to make my neighbor pay for his rude behavior. Instead of encouraging me to change my behavior in the way my neighbor requested, the note had an entirely different effect. The written demand prompted me to make my neighbor regret placing that note on my windshield.

This incident led me to question the legal demand letters lawyers write. I wondered if demand letters often evoke similar negative emotional reactions in their recipients. And, if so, do those emotions influence the recipients’ behaviors in ways that hinder settlement?

I'll be providing a template for a negotiation request letter later today.

And all kidding aside, this article should be required reading for every legal writing class in every law school in the country!

Cross-posted at The ABCs of Conflict Resolution Blog.

__________________

*/  The Golden Asshole Award is given once a month to the individual making the greatest contribution to reducing assholishness in the profession.

Extreme Negotiations at HBR

Check out Extreme Negotiations at Harvard Business Review this month (kicker:  What U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan have learned about the art of managing high-risk, high-stakes situations).

I have to tell you that I believe every one of our She Negotiates graduates understands and knows how to use the bullet point takeaways from Extreme Negotiations below.  Let me also say it's not enough to read about these techniques ~ you must practice practice practice practice.

Get the Big Picture

  • avoid assuming you have all the facts
  • avoid assuming the other side is biased but you're not
  • avoid assuming the other side's motivations and intentions are obvious and nefarious
  • instead, be curious ("help me understand"); humble ("what do I do wrong?") and open-minded ("is there another way to explain this?")

Uncover and Collaborate

  • avoid making open-ended offers ("what do you want")
  • avoid making unilateral offers ("I'd be willing to . . . "
  • avoid simply agreeing to or refusing the other side's demands
  • instead ask "why is that important to you?"
  • proposed solutions for critique ("here's a possibility - what might be wrong with it?")

Elicit Genuine Buy-in

  • avoid threats ("you'd better agree, or else . . . "
  • avoid arbitrariness ("I want it because I want it."
  • avoid close-mindedness ("under no circumstances will I agree to - or even consider - that proposal"
  • instead appeal to fairness ("what should we do?")
  • appeal to logic and legitimacy ("I think this makes sense because . . . ")
  • consider constituent perspectives ("how can each of us explain this agreement to colleagues?"

Build Trust

  • avoid trying to "buy" a good relationship
  • avoid offering concessions to repair actual or perceived breaches of trust
  • instead explore how a breakdown in trust may have occurred and how to remedy it
  • make concessions only if they are a legitimate way to compensate for losses owing to your nonperformance or broken commitments
  • treat counterparts with respect, and act in ways that will command theirs.

Focus on process

  • avoid acting without gauging how your actions will be perceived and what the response will be
  • ignoring the consequences of a given action for future as well as current negotiations
  • instead talk about the process ("we seem to be at an impasse; perhaps we should send some more time exploring our respective objectives and constraints."_
  • slow down the pace:  ("I'm not ready to agree, but I'd prefer not to walk away either.  I think this warrants further exploration.")
  • issue warnings without making threats:  ("unless you're willing to work with me toward a mutually acceptable outcome, I can't afford to spend more time negotiating")

I'll be blogging on each one of these steps in the negotiation process for the next two weeks so stay tuned.

Cross posted at She Negotiates and the ABCs of Conflict Resolution.

 

 

 

Virtual Property, Virtual Litigation and Real Resolution

I continue to bark at the moon.

Here's a piece I missed in April on real litigation filed over virtual property in Second Life.

Architect David Denton spends much of his time on a lush tropical island, where he experiments with cutting-edge building designs and creates spaces for artists to showcase their work.

Never mind that the island only exists in the virtual-reality world of Second Life, a popular online venue where people interact via digital avatars. Denton, 62, said he purchased the island for about $700 — real money, not virtual cash — from its former owner, and considers it his property.

Here's the thought this article triggers.  If 90% of all litigation involving people (I'll skip corporate litigation and litigation brought to vindicate rights such as that declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional) will end with a retired Judge telling the people that litigation is too expensive and a jury trial too uncertain for them to bear, why don't we just litigate virtually (with Linden dollars!) giving the parties the experience of litigation that will eventually drive them to settlement?

I'm sure some smart programmer can come up with an algorithm for most personal disputes, including both factual templates and the application of simple legal principles.  A "ticker" could keep track of the dollars your virtual attorney is billing on your law suit's screen everyday.  Continuances, discovery motions, pre-trial proceedings and depositions could all be simulated.

Then the parties return from the virtual life of Second Life Litigation and sit down in the old fashioned way to negotiate a resolution to their dispute or, if necessary, hire a village elder trained in conflict resolution, sometimes called a mediator, to help them do so.

Kagan and the Magic Number Three

More important than her religious background (Jewish) her Ivy League Credentials (Harvard) her progressive, liberal or conservative Democrat political leanings, is the prospect that Kagan's addition to the Supreme Court will result in the magic number of three women on the United States Supreme Court. 

Why is three the magic number?

Recent studies have shown that it takes three women corporate board members to avoid the deliterious effects of group think on corporate decision making - my own supposition on the question "why three" being that one or two women easily risk falling into male group-think.  This isn't male bashing, by the way. I assume three men on an otherwise all woman's board would have a similar performance enhancing effect.  

Continue Reading

Motion to Compel Lunch: Granted

 

Thanks to Roger Wood at the Association Law and Other Musings Blog for passing along the Order for Lunch issued by the Maricopa County Superior Court (.pdf) excerpted below.  Roger generously shared this truly glorious Order (and supporting opinion that you can read in the .pdf) over at Construction Law Musings today in response to my Guest Post there ("How to Get Sued"). 

Thanks Roger!  This didn't just make my day; it made my year!

 

 Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Acceptance of Lunch Invitation

The Court has rarely seen a motion with more merit. The motion will be granted.

The Court has searched in vain in the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure and cases, as well as the leading treatises on federal and Arizona procedure, to find specific support for Plaintiff’s motion. Finding none, the Court concludes that motions of this type are so clearly within the inherent powers of the Court and have been so routinely granted that they are non-controversial and require no precedential support.

The writers support the concept. Conversation has been called “the socializing instrument par excellence” (Jose Ortega y Gasset, Invertebrate Spain) and “one of the greatest pleasures in life” (Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence). John Dryden referred to“Sweet discourse, the banquet of the mind” (The Flower and the Leaf).

Plaintiff’s counsel extended a lunch invitation to Defendant’s counsel “to have a discussion regarding discovery and other matters.” Plaintiff’s counsel offered to “pay for lunch.”  Defendant’s counsel failed to respond until the motion was filed.

Defendant’s counsel distrusts Plaintiff’s counsel’s motives and fears that Plaintiff’s counsel’s purpose is to persuade Defendant’s counsel of the lack of merit in the defense case.

The Court has no doubt of Defendant’s counsel’s ability to withstand Plaintiff’s counsel’s blandishments and to respond sally for sally and barb for barb. Defendant’s counsel now makes what may be an illusory acceptance of Plaintiff’s counsel’s invitation by saying, “We would love to have lunch at Ruth’s Chris with/on . . .” Plaintiff’s counsel. 1
___________
1 Everyone knows that Ruth’s Chris, while open for dinner, is not open for lunch. This   is a matter of which the Court may take judicial notice.

Read on by clicking on the .pdf above.

And how could I resist adding the "will you go to lunch!" scene from David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross.

"Man" Up to Negotiate or Prevent Your Own Disputes at Sleeping Beauty's Castle

Conflict is in the house.  The evil fairy surrounded the castle with deadly thorns.  The "good" fairy put everyone in the castle to sleep.  Will you be the valiant Prince in your own dispute story?  Or are you the prize?  The beautiful one who would prefer to remain unconscious rather than address the great battle between good and evil represented here?  Did you hire a lawyer to resolve your dispute for you?  Will he make it to the castle in time?  Or will he spend the bulk of his energy erecting more obstacles to prevent your adversary from reaching you.  By the time both champions reach the castle, will everyone be too bloodied and broke to rise from your bed and put your house back in order?

Choose carefully and read the entire post at the Commercial ADR Blog:  The Other ADR:  Risk Management for the Cloud.

Conflict Revolution: Mediating Evil, War, Injustice and Terrorism by Dr. Kenneth Cloke

I spent my day Saturday at the annual convention of the Southern California Mediation Association (kudos to attorney-mediator Phyllis Pollack for a fabulous conference!)  Ken Cloke spoke eloquently on conflict systems and what mediators can do to "save the planet."  I took his presentation (characteristically and densely verbal) and added images to break up the text hoping that Ken won't mind supplementing the English language with pictures).

I highly recommend Ken's presentation (which was incredibly eloquent at the conference and not limited by the hard bruising text against text can do) as well as, of course, his brilliant and visionary book - Conflict Revolution.

 

 

Blawg Review #234

Sociologist Elise Boulding has said that we live in a “200 year present,” a “social space which reaches into the past and into the future” -- a space in which “we can move around directly in our own lives and indirectly by touching the lives of the young and old around us.” Miall, Ramsbotham and Woodhouse, Contemporary Conflict Resolution.

What does the 200-year present have to do with conflict resolution week?  It reminds us that new forms never really completely replace the old ones.  We continue to employ every technique we've ever used to suppress, avoid, deny, resolve, transform, or transcend conflict, including force (violent and non-violent such as injunctions subject of a Trial Warrior Blog post this week); thievery (the Trade Secrets Blog); shaming (which Scott Greenfield does to bloggers "looking for fights and dumb as dirt" and which Volokh suggests we do to health insurers); bullying (solutions to which appear at the Citizen Media Law Project); torture (still with us at the Crim Prof Blog); cheating (Make Yourself Better with Their Secrets at Concretely Ambiguous) ingratiation (at the Law School Expert); persuasive argumentation; appeal to third party authority; bargaining; communication; and, problem solving (The Tao of Advice at the Business of Creativity). 

Whichever dispute resolution mechanism you use, it should be much improved if you take up  juggling (as reported this week at Idealawg).

Transformative conflict resolution of the type covered by New York City police officer, Jeff Thompson at Enjoy Mediation, requires accountability (by lawyers, for instance, to the principle of justice at Law21); recognition (at JD Bliss); apology, amends, reconciliation (at Opinio Juris); power with (negotiation and cooperation at the Ohio Family Law Blog) instead of power over (at the Election Law Blog); and, interests rather than rights (at the Gay Couples Law Blog).

No brand of law-giver or enforcer has ever entirely left the scene.  Cops, negotiators, mediators (on the international scene at the Business Conflict Blog); conciliators, arbitrators, trial attorneys (marking tattoos as exhibits over at LawComix), corporate lawyers, legislators  (fomenting a Franken Amendment at the ADR Prof Blawg); judges (whether elected or appointed at Legally Unbound), and, juries (who might be biased at SCOTUS Blog). 

And of course the gadflies (wolf protection lawsuits anyone? at  Point of Law). 

Win, lose, settle, enjoin (at Charon QC) or simply give up (6 Ways We Gave Up Our Privacy at CSO Security and Risk).  We regulate crime and prescribe punishment (Polanski at Sentencing Law and Policy and The End of an Era at Defending People). 

We wage war (at Prawfs Blog) and seek peace (at the Delaware Employment Law Blog) as conflict inevitably erupts over Obama's (embarrassing) peace prize (at Balkinization).

And, lest we forget our primary purpose, we bend our efforts toward justice (which, according to BLT is not necessarily available to card-carrying members of the ACLU).

My own personal 200-year present spans the life of my maternal grandparents who were nine years old in 1909, and that of my step-children’s children, who (assuming they procreate on a reasonable schedule) should be ninety-five'ish in 2109

My grandfather, born in 1900, witnessed the birth of electricity, saw the first automobile roll off an assembly line [2] and stood awestruck in a cornfield as one of mankind’s first airplanes took flight. [3]  Although we've progressed from bi-planes to jets and rockets (some of which may someday be green) we still fly balloons of the type first launched in 1783 -- both Goodyear Blimps and the backyard variety, covered this week by Legal Blog Watch as Law and More

asked here whether the shiny, flying, silver Jiffy Pop-looking craft tethered in the backyard of Richard Heene was an "attractive nuisance" under the law.

Grandpa's first war was, well, the First and his second was the Second,[4]  as if there'd never been any wars before the Great One. By the time I was born, mid-century, we'd fought the war to end all wars twice and knew we'd never survive a third

My imagined grandchildren, [6] born sometime between today and 2014, will not be strangers to any of my grandfather’s technologies. Despite the advent of compact fluorescent light bulbs, the early lives of my step-children's children will likely pass under the glow of the same incandescent lights that brightened granddad’s one-room school house. They will be transported to school in cars with internal combustion engines, learn the same alphabet from the same cardboard and paper books (as well as from the "e" variety) [7] and play many of the same games [8]  he did – hop scotch, jump rope and ring-around the rosy. 

Change will etch itself into the lives of my grandchildren as surely as it did my own, my parents' and my grandparents'.  Hybrids will give way to fully electric (and perhaps hemp-powered) [9] vehicles (effective or defective) and though electricity will continue to be  generated by hydroelectric dams, wind farms and nuclear power plants, some new and unimaginable source of power will surely push back the nights of my grand children's children. [10]

Law, politics, society and culture also exist in the 200-year present of conflict resolution.  [11] In my personal 200-year span, the law seems to have changed the most profoundly. Was it the law first and culture later?  Or do they weave our future together?

The first U.S. woman lawyer, Myra Bradwell, was admitted to practice a mere ten years before my grandmother was born. Mrs. Bradwell’s legal career was the subject of one of the sorriest U.S. Supreme Court decisions ever handed down, in which the Court opined,

The civil law as well as nature itself, has always recognized a wide difference in the respective spheres and destinies of man and woman. Man is, or should be, woman’s protector and defender.  The natural and proper timidity and delicacy which belongs to the female sex evidently unfits it for many of the occupations of civil life. The constitution of the family organization, which is founded in the divine ordinance, as well as in the nature of things, indicates the domestic sphere as that which properly belongs to the domain and functions of womanhood. The harmony, not to say the identity, of interests and views which belong, or should belong, to the family institution is repugnant to the idea for a woman adopting a distinct and independent career from that of her husband … for these reasons I think that the laws of Illinois now complained of are not obnoxious to the charge of any abridging any of the privileges and immunities of cities of the United States.

[12]

Another nineteen years would pass after Bradwell began her practice before she (and my nineteen year old grandmother) were guaranteed the right to vote. [13] And another 30 years would pass after my women's movement -- the Second Wave -- before we'd have our own  business magazine -   ForbesWoman (my part in it here).  And let us not forget that despite the 20th Century's great civil rights achievements, when America catches a cold, black America gets pneumonia.  See e.g. Problems All Around for Blacks in Big Law at Being a Black Lawyer.

My grandparents', parents' and step-children's 20th Century was dominated by genocide [14] on a scale and a technological precision unimaginable to our earlier forebears.  Mid-century brought with it the threat of nuclear annihilation but also liberated millions of people enslaved by colonialism.  We cured polio in my own lifetime with both "dead" and "live" vaccines (neither of them counterfeit) - a singular moment in scientific history during which no one took ownership of the cure and no one tried to stop others from seeking another, a problem Patently O addressed this week in Reverse Payments.

Whether god or satan, heaven or hell, war or peace "won" the twentieth century, the world's greatest peace-making body was created during it -- the United Nations.  And here in the U.S., the “living room war,” Viet Nam, coupled with the largest generation of adolescents ever to grace American society, ended the forcible induction of young men into the military[15]

With the recent discovery of our earliest ancestor, Ardi, our biological and social lives exist in a 4.4 million year now. Our physical bodies “evolve” in the womb along the same lines as did our species and, once born, we carry with us our earliest organs. [16] Most critical of these to conflict escalation and avoidance is our “fight-flight” mechanism – the amygdala.[17] And the most pertinent biological agents to promote the collaborative resolution of conflict are our “mirror neurons” which

 provide a powerful biological foundation for the evolution of culture . . . absorb[ing] it directly, with each generation teaching the next by social sharing, imitation and observation.

 [18]

As “exquisitely social creatures,” our “survival depends on understanding the actions, intentions and emotions of others.” Id. That our misunderstandings and cognitive biases -- mentioned by Volokh on Paternalism and Michael Carbone on reactive devaluation at Mediation Strategies this week -- threaten our survival as a species is undeniable (cf. Lawyers Must Survive or Face Extinction at the Lawyerist)

How we’ve manage to survive despite our tendency to misread one another’s actions, intentions and emotions, is often the subject of those who advise us how to choose and move juries -- here -- Anne Reed at Deliberations (explaining why "they" don't see things like "we" do here); and, the Jury Room (explaining why pain hurts more intensely when we believe it's been intentionally inflicted here). 

The Most Effective Conflict Resolution Technology is the Oldest

One of our true original gangsters, Al Capone, is reported to have said that “you can get much further with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone” and one of our greatest Presidents, Theodore Roosevelt said “speak softly and carry a big stick.”

Capone and Roosevelt didn't know it, but they were talking about the most effective (and most ancient) form of conflict resolution – tit for tat. In 1980, political Scientist Robert Axelrod asked game theory experts to submit computer programs designed to prevail in a game that provided the highest reward to cooperating pairs -- the famous Prisoner's Dilemma. (See also Max Kennerly's excellent post on Game Theory and Medical Malpractice Settlements at the Philadelphia Litigation and Trial Blog).

The winner of Axelrod's competition was a program named tit for tat.  Tit for tat was programmed to cooperate [19]  with its first encounter with any other programmed player.  It  rewarded cooperation with cooperation (just as networking will reward the savvy lawyer over at Chuck Newton's Ride the Third Wave) and punished non-cooperation with retaliation. Because Tit for Tat retaliated in the face of non-cooperation (just as a former employee did according to Hell Hath No Fury at Chicago Law Blogger) it was never repeatedly victimized. And because Tit for Tat “forgave” non-cooperators upon their return to cooperative game playing (as some believe Mr. Polanski should be forgiven over at the Marquette U. Law School Faculty Blog) it never got locked into mutually costly chains of mutual betrayal. [20]

As Robert Wright, author of The Moral Animal explained, had Tit for Tat been tossed into the game with 50 steadfast non-cooperators, there would have been a 49-way tie for first place. But none of the players' programs failed to cooperate in at least some circumstances, leaving Tit for Tat the clear victor.  According to Wright, humans, like the programs in Axelrod's competition, are evolutionarily “designed” to cooperate under at least some circumstances. The engine and benefit of cooperation is present in our neurochemistry.  When scientists observed the brain activity of volunteers playing the Prisoner’s Dilemma game, for instance, they found that the participants' “reward circuits” were activated and their impulsive "me first" circuits inhibited when they cooperated. Cooperation, retaliation, forgiveness and a return to cooperation. Tit for Tat. 

Laws and Lawyers

First and most importantly, I suppose, are the social media signs that you're "tweeting" like a lawyer over at the Social Media Law Student Blog.  Why first or important?  Know thyself.  Everything else follows that.

We don't "dis" lawyers here at the Negotiation Blog.  We simply remind ourselves that our primary purpose is the promotion of justice, with a stable societal order closely behind.  Most people don't understand, for instance, that Shakespeare's famous the first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers was not an insult.  In King Henry IV, Act IV, Scene II, Shakespeare's sentiment was not his own, but that of a revolutionary who wished to destroy the social order.

The historic "present" of laws and lawyers is in the thousands, not simply the hundreds, of years. Hammurabi (make of his choice for the memorialization of his laws what you will) was the sixth king of Babylon, remembered for creating -- in his own name (and likeness?) - the first written and systematic legal code. 

These laws provided for a mix of physical punishment - 60 lashes with an ox hide whip - ‘measure for measure’ awards (still with us in the form of lethal injection as covered by The StandDown Texas Project) – eye for eye, bone fracture for bone fracture – and monetary compensation – 20 shekels for tooth injuries – (preserved by workplace injury awards such as those discussed at the Workers Compensation Blog) depended not only upon the type of injury, but the social classes involved in the loss, i.e., ‘measure for measure’ sanctions were specified for losses among the upper classes while monetary awards were required for losses caused to and by commoners (reminding us that disrespect still too often turns on social status or "outsider" classification as discussed at Balkinization this week).  [23] 

For the wrongful killing of another, for instance, the victim’s kin were paid according to the social status of the deceased party. Thus the ‘man price’ for killing a peasant was 200 shillings and that for a nobleman 1200 shillings. Payments were not, however, tailored to the loss, but fixed according to types of affront, a distinction we continue to make when we punish intentional torts more severely than negligent ones.  [24]>

Criminal law and civil, it all comes down to a process that is "due" (a topic covered in a blistering post about tea-partiers and other "protectors" of the Constitution at the Criminal Jurisdiction Law Blog) and a set of guidelines against which we can exercise some small degree of control over our own commercial and personal futures (like those subject of Delays Not "Party Time, Excellent" for Subcontractor at the Construction Contract Review).

Lawyers, litigators and trial lawyers are too often demonized by the ADR community as if you could get someone to sit down to negotiate without first pointing the gun of litigation at their heads; I salute you (and myself, for that matter!) for bringing us all to the bargaining table.  See Steve Mehta's recent post at Mediation Matters, Factors When Peace Makes Sense for a note that touches upon the symbiotic relationship between litigation and mediation, litigators and mediators.

I shouldn't cite single legal blogs twice, but I cannot resist this quote of Scott Greenfield's on another pundit's view of the future lawyers have in store for them, i.e., 

shucking oysters for a living if we don't accept a future of lawyers being piece workers in factories, sending our work off to Bangalore in pdf files and complementing people on their choice of forms at Legal Zoom.

Legal Rebels:  the Sky is Falling at Simple JusticeCharon QC also weighs in on the ABA Legal Rebels project here.

Arbitration

Which came first? Public civil trials or private arbitrations? You’ll be surprised, I’ll wager, to hear that arbitration was one of the earliest forms of dispute resolution, practiced by the juris consults of the Roman Empire. Roman arbitration predates the adversarial system of common law by more than a thousand years. [25]

Ah, the glory of Rome! The juris consulti were (like too many mediators) amateurs who dabbled in dispute resolution, raising the question whether they (and we) should be certified or regulated as Diane Levin asks at The Mediation Channel this week.  The Roman hobbyists gave legal opinions (responsa) to all comers (a practice known as publice respondere). They also served the needs of Roman judges and governors would routinely consult with advisory panels of jurisconsults before rendering decisions. Thus, the Romans – god bless them! - were the first to have a class of people who spent their days thinking about legal problems (an activity some readers will recall Ralph Nader calling "mental gymnastics in an iron cage").

18th Century Dispute Resolution Technology:  The (Inevitably Polarizing) Adversarial System

It was Buckminster Fuller who famously opined that the "significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them."  If you keep this aphorism in mind for the remainder of this post, you'll likely have some extraordinarily innovative comments to make in the comment section below.

As the Law Guru wiki reminds us, we can trace the adversarial system to the "medieval mode of trial by combat, in which some litigants were allowed a champion to represent them."  We owe our present day adversarialism, however, to the common law's use of the jury - the power of argumentation replacing the power of the sword.

The Act abolishing the infamous Star Chamber in 1641 also granted every "freeman" the right to trial by "lawful judgment of his peers" or by the "law of the land" before the Crown could "take[] or imprison[]" him or "disseis[e] [him] of his freehold or liberties, or free customs."  Nor could he any longer be "outlawed or exciled or otherwise destroyed."  Nor could the King "pass upon him or condemn him." 

English colonies like our own adopted the jury trial system and we, of course, enshrined that system in the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Amendments.  Whether this 17th century dispute resolution technology can be fine-tuned to keep abreast of 21st century dispute creation technology (particularly in the quickly moving area of intellectual property) remains one of the pressing questions of legal and ADR policy and practice, particularly in a week in which a Superior Court verbally punished the lawyers before it for filing The Most Oppressive Motion Ever Presented (see the Laconic Law Blog).  The motion? 

Defendants['] . . . motion for summary judgment/summary adjudication, seeking adjudication of 44 issues, most of which were not proper subjects of adjudication.  Defendants’ separate statement was 196 pages long, setting forth hundreds of facts, many of them not material—as defendants’ own papers conceded.  And the moving papers concluded with a request for judicial notice of 174 pages.  All told, defendants’ moving papers were 1056 pages.

Id. (and ouch!)  On a less Dickensian note (think Bleak House) take a look at the IP Maximizer's post on IP litigation not being smart source of revenue for inventors

Mediator, author and activist, Ken Cloke, suggests that interest-based resolutions to conflict must replace power and rights based resolutions if we expect to create a future in which justice prevails.  As Ken wrote in Conflict Revolution:

Approaching evil and injustice from an interest-based perspective means listening to the deeper truths that gave rise to them, extending compassion even to those who were responsible for evils or injustices, and seeking not merely to replace one evil or injustice with another, but to reduce their attractiveness by designing outcomes, processes, and relationships that encourage adversaries to work collaboratively to satisfy their interests.

Evil and injustice can therefore be considered byproducts of reliance on power or rights, and failures or refusals to learn and evolve.

All political systems generate chronic conflicts that reveal their internal weaknesses, external pressures, and demands for evolutionary change. Power- and rights-based systems are adversarial and unstable, and therefore avoid, deny, resist, and defend themselves against change. As a result, they suppress conflicts or treat them as purely interpersonal, leaving insiders less informed and able to adapt, and outsiders feeling they were treated unjustly and contemplating evil in response.

As pressures to change increase, these systems must either adapt, or turn reactionary and take a punitive, retaliatory attitude toward those seeking to promote change, delaying their own evolution. Only interest-based systems are fully able to seek out their weaknesses, proactively evolve, transform conflicts into sources of learning, and celebrate those who brought them to their attention.

These are the words I leave with the readers of Blawg Review #234 because they are the ones that informed my personal and professional transformation from a legal career based on rights and remedies to one based upon interests and consensus. 

Whatever my own personal 200-year present was, is and will be, it is pointed in the direction of peace with justice, with an enormous and probably unwarranted optimism best expressed by the man after whom my law school was namedMartin Luther King, Jr.  - the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.

Blawg Review has information about next week's host, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues. Next week's host, Counsel to Counsel, will devote its round-up of the week's best legal posts to the Great Recession.



[1]             See the WSJ Law Blog’s post on the evolving law on gay marriage this week – Procreat[ion] Not Required.

[2]             Alas, there will always be lemons over at the Texas Lemon Law Blog (save those repair invoices!)

[3]             See Ruth Bader Ginsberg Hospitalized at the Volokh Conspiracy, reporting on Ginsberg’s fall from the seat of an airplane before take-off.

[4]             See the Law History Blog on Brewer’s Why America Fights.

[6]             Grandchildren who will not, I hope, have to deal with my Alzheimers, the perils of which are described at the Slutsky Elder Law and Estate Planning Blog.

[7]             Though, of course, e-books will be read side-by-side with hard copy as paper and cardboard eventually goes the way of Colonial era hornbooks. See Downloadable e-Books Change the Face of Brick and Mortar Libraries at the Law Librarian Blog.

[8]              Those games will, of course, exist side by side the video variety, many of which are recommended as Tools for Special Needs Students and Educators at the Adjunct Law Prof Blog this week.

[9]               See Hemp and Audacity at the U.S. Ag and Food Law Policy Blog.

[12]             Alas there’s still a gender gap as described this week at Ms. JD.

[13]             Voting rights are still a matter of concern today, of course. See Judge Says Virginia Violated Rights of Overseas Voters at the Blog of Legal Times.

[14]             See Rachel Anderson’s Law Blog on the scope of immunity for foreign officials that Anderson believes may have important implications for Plaintiffs seeking recompense for genocide.

[15]             One generation wants out and the other wants in. See Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Teach at Sexual Orientation and the Law Blog.

[16]             Earlier scientific theory posited that each human embryo (see Embryo Mix-Up at the Proud Parenting Blog) passes through a progression of abbreviated stages that resemble the main evolutionary stages of its ancestors, i.e., that the fertilized egg starts as a single cell (just like our first living evolutionary ancestor); as the egg repeatedly divides it develops into an embryo with a segmented arrangement (the “worm” stage); these segments develop into vertebrae, muscles and something that sort of looks like gills (the “fish” stage); limb buds develop with paddle-like hands and feet, and there appears to be a “tail” (the “amphibian” stage); and, by the eighth week of development, most organs are nearly complete, the limbs develop fingers and toes, and the “tail” disappears (the human stage). It turns out that this one-to-one correlation was too simplistic, but it remains safe to say that our biological development still passes through several stages that “recapitulate” the evolution of our species.

[17]          The amygdala is a region of the brain that permits the formation and storage of memories associated with emotional events. It permits us to “read” the emotional responses of our fellows and is thought to facilitated our ability to form relationships and live and work in groups. It is also the source of our “fight or flight” response to danger.

[18] In Cells that Read Minds, New York Times Science writer Sandra Blakeslee explained:

Studies show that some mirror neurons fire when a person reaches for a glass or watches someone else reach for a glass; others fire when the person puts the glass down and still others fire when the person reaches for a toothbrush and so on. They respond when someone kicks a ball, sees a ball being kicked, hears a ball being kicked and says or hears the word "kick."

 “When you see me perform an action - such as picking up a baseball - you automatically simulate the action in your own brain,” said Dr. Marco Iacoboni, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who studies mirror neurons. ”Circuits in your brain, which we do not yet entirely understand, inhibit you from moving while you simulate,” he said. ”But you understand my action because you have in your brain a template for that action based on your own movements. “

[20]             Check out the post on the Betrayal of Corporate Clients at the Investment Fraud Lawyer Blog.

[21]             Wrongful death compensation over at the Product Liability Law Blog.

[22]             Looking toward the future, the Neuroethics and the Law Blog predicts that in the “experiential future, we will have better technologies to measure physical pain, pain relief, and emotional distress. These technologies should not only change tort law and related compensation schemes but should also change our assessments of criminal blameworthiness and punishment severity” here.

[23]             This week Beck and Herrmann at the Drug and Device Law Blog note that “shame works wonders” in their post on the Free Speech Challenges to the FDA.

[24]             Intentionally left blank.

[25]             ADR professionals are often heard critics of the adversarial system, as can be seen over at the Australian Dispute Resolvers Blog where author Chris Whitelaw (really??) quotes the Journal of Law and Medicine as follows:

The adversarial system of medical negligence fails to satisfy the main aims of tort law, those being equitable compensation of plaintiffs, correction of mistakes and deterrence of negligence. Instead doctors experience litigation as a punishment and, in order to avoid exposure to the system, have resorted not to corrective or educational measures but to defensive medicine, a practice which the evidence indicates both decreases patient autonomy and increases iatrogenic injury.

 (Iatrogenic, by the way, is a fancy term for “we have know idea whatsoever what the source of this ailment is). Chris is looking for comments so run on over there if you’ve been thinking about medical malpractice litigation during the marathon American health care debates.

 

Sure We Can Compromise, But Can We Negotiate Justice?

The following is the conclusion of an excellent post on the recent Pfizer-Justice Department settlement noting that it met "the People's" justice interests better than a judgment could have.  The full article, Settlement and Justice for All by Robert C. Bordone & Matthew J. Smith** can be found here at the Harvard Negotiation Law Review.

 More than honoring principles a court might champion, the negotiated settlement with Pfizer allows the Justice Department to secure commitments from Pfizer that would have been unlikely in a court verdict. In addition to the enormous cash payment, the settlement agreement allows for closer monitoring of Pfizer by Justice Department officials in the years ahead, ensuring corporate accountability and providing an extra measure of protection for consumers. As part of the deal, Pfizer entered into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services and will be required to maintain a corporate compliance program for the next five years. While a judge might choose to retain judicial oversight in a particular case, federal courts typically lack the expertise or resources to provide the kind of enforcement needed to ensure a systemic and long-term remedy in a technical or highly specialized case such as this.

The Pfizer settlement represents the best kind of transparent, efficient, and wise government law enforcement. It holds Pfizer wholly accountable for its actions, sends a strong and clear message to the public that corporate malfeasance will not be tolerated, provides for ongoing enforcement, and it does it all at a fraction of the cost of trial. While many cases should proceed to trial for reasons of precedent and public policy, negotiated settlement – when approached with wisdom and aplomb – can be a most efficient and effective means of law enforcement.

For my own posts and mediation, negotiation and justice, see Delivering Justice in Community Mediation, Negotiating Justice:  Anchoring, Bias, Dad and Sotomayor, and Do Interest-Based Negotiation and Mediation Trade Justice for Harmony?

Thanks to Don Philbin for being one of the best navigators of quality in the ADRosphere!  "Friend" him on Facebook here.

________________

**/ Robert C. Bordone is the Thaddeus R. Beal Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and Director of the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program. Matthew J. Smith is a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School and a Clinical Fellow at the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

 

 

 

Negotiating Rational Choice, Statistics and the Future of Mankind

 

(right:  Bueno de Mesquita's "Logic of Political Survival")

The book at right was brought to my attention for the first time by this highlighted text in Good Magazine: 

In the foreboding world view of rational choice, everyone is a raging dirtbag.

What makes the Logic of Political Survival Relevant to negotiators is Bruce Bueno de Mesquita's application of game theory to international political problems such as the reduction of conflict between Israel and Palestine (quoted below).   

I'll have to admit that his claim to "produce a settlement [in litigation] that is 40 percent better than what the attorneys think is the best that can be achieved” -- also caught my attention and should draw my attorney readers into de Mesquita's world, first from Good Magazine's article The New Nostradamus and (at the end of this post, today's article in the Sunday New York Times).

First, de Mesquita's own words on the Middle East.

In my view, it is a mistake to look for [peacemaking] strategies that build mutual trust [between the Israelis and the Palestinians] because it ain’t going to happen. Neither side has any reason to trust the other, for good reason. . . . 

Land for peace is an inherently flawed concept because it has a fundamental commitment problem. If I give you land on your promise of peace in the future, after you have the land, as the Israelis well know, it is very costly to take it back if you renege. You have an incentive to say, ‘You made a good step, it’s a gesture in the right direction, but I thought you were giving me more than this. I can’t give you peace just for this, it’s not enough.’

Conversely, if we have peace for land—you disarm, put down your weapons, and get rid of the threats to me and I will then give you the land—the reverse is true: I have no commitment to follow through. Once you’ve laid down your weapons, you have no threat. 

The "rational" solution?

 In a peaceful world, what do the Palestinians anticipate will be their main source of economic viability? Tourism. This is what their own documents say. And, of course, the Israelis make a lot of money from tourism, and that revenue is very easy to track. As a starting point requiring no trust, no mutual cooperation, I would suggest that all tourist revenue be [divided by] a fixed formula based on the current population of the region, which is roughly 40 percent Palestinian, 60 percent Israeli. The money would go automatically to each side. Now, when there is violence, tourists don’t come. So the tourist revenue is automatically responsive to the level of violence on either side for both sides. You have an accounting firm that both sides agree to, you let the U.N. do it, whatever. It’s completely self-enforcing, it requires no cooperation except the initial agreement by the Israelis that they are going to turn this part of the revenue over, on a fixed formula based on population, to some international agency, and that’s that.

It actually gets much more controversial and interesting than this -- the "kicker" to the headline in Good Magazine reads:

Can a fringe branch of mathematics forecast the future? A special adviser to the CIA, Fortune 500 companies, and the U.S. Department of Defense certainly thinks so

If that intrigues you, you'll want to read the entire article here.  And you'll also want to read today's New York Times article on de Mesquita,

Can Game Theory Predict When Iran Will Get the Bomb?

 

Negotiating Employment: A 12-Step Plan

This article (Relationships are Key in Job Searches) flogging this book (Whacked Again! Secrets to Getting Back in the Executive Saddle) landed in my email box from law.com this morning.

I have to say that I agree with magazine mogul Tina Brown that we're in a "gig economy" not a job economy.  What does that mean?  It means doing an inventory of your dreams right next to a realistic assessment of your skills, along with a time line for getting your own business up and running, with or without investors, remembering that in a "gig economy" barter is a perfectly acceptable alternative to cash and in the age of the internet (Networking Wisdom in Mentoring Circles) hundreds of marketing tools that can reach millions of people globally and thousands of people locally, are right beneath your fingers on the keyboard connected to the computer that brings you the most exciting set of opportunities since we decided to send men to the moon -- social networking (now there's a proper run-on sentence, the reward for which is buying myself a new copy of Elements of Style which every job-seeker and new entrepreneur should do post-haste since written communication is the key to successful online business development). 

That said, for those who NEED A JOB RIGHT NOW to pay off their law school loans (remembering that dischargable or not, we no longer have debtors' prisons), here's today's Law.com advice:

The book gives a 12-step plan for landing a new job: 1. finding passion and creating vision; 2. creating a brand; 3. creating a value proposition; 4. creating stories; 5. developing a marketing plan; 6. getting a message out; 7. creating a marketing document; 8. meeting the friend's friend; 9. power résumé; 10. preparing for an interview; 11. negotiating terms; 12. landing the job; and the next step.

The book emphasizes the importance of keeping up contacts after landing in a new job -- knowing that another may search may be ahead. But it suggests maintaining contacts by looking for ways to help other people with a "pay-it-forward" approach. "We all need help at some point," the book says. "The concept is that you are thankful for those who helped you in the past."

Villwock told the group that in his experience, the most successful CEOs and other professionals are those who are most passionate about their work. "When they stop having fun, that's when they stop and go on to the next job," he said.

He also advised the group that attitude and personal skills are as important as professional credentials. From observing executives, he said, "half their success has nothing to do with performance on the job. It has everything to do with ability to sell themselves and build trusted relationships."

If you substitute business plan for power résumé and starting the business for landing the job, you've got a perfectly great recipe for engaging the gig economy eagerly awaiting your contribution.  Listen up!  You didn't get the highest PSAT and SAT scores, graduate cum, magna or summa, ace the LSAT, study your $#@% off, learn lawyering skills, conquer your fear and pass the bar exam to be hat in hand looking to be someone's apprentice galley slave. 

Think about it and join the rest of the gig economy. 

We're looking forward to your unique and valuable contributions to the new economy right now!

The writing on the inside of the secret entrepreneurial decoder ring?  MONETIZE EVERYTHING!

AND WOMEN!!  JOIN THE PROFESSIONAL WOMEN'S NETWORK OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA.  WE'RE ONLINE NATIONALLY AND "ON THE GROUND" LOCALLY.

Negotiating with Difficult People for Lawyers

Negotiating Conflict in a Business Setting with a Word for Women and a Caution on Negotiation Ethics

Here's part I of the Resource Materials for the full-day training which included this Power Point Presentation.

Part I includes articles (see the Table of Contents) on The Social Psychology of Conflict; Negotiation and Gender; Distributive Bargaining; and, Integrative and Interest-Based Negotiation.

Negotiation 101: Putting "No" into a "Yes Sandwich"

With so much emphasis placed on Getting to Yes, we often forget the power - indeed the necessity -- of saying "no."

Think of yourself in that iconic bargaining environment, the foreign bazaar.  No matter how much of a buyers' market you're in, at some point, the seller must say no -- otherwise you'd just bargain him down to zero, or perhaps negotiate a deal in which he pays you to take the merchandise off his hands.  Fortunately for negotiators everyone, the Getting to Yes guy -- William Ury -- has also written an entire book on The Power of a Positive No.  As Time Magazine wrote at the time of "No's" release,

In The Power of a Positive No, Ury offers guidance on the flip side of reaching an agreement: how to deal with a situation in which you simply want to put your foot down. No is so often hard to say, Ury writes, because it highlights the "tension between exercising your power and tending to your relationship"--in other words, between getting what you want in the short term and keeping everyone happy for interactions down the road. People often err in one direction or the other, prioritizing either the relationship by saying yes when they long to say no or their own power by brusquely saying no and alienating the person they're dealing with. Then there is the ever popular route of avoidance--saying nothing at all and gaining neither what you want nor goodwill.

See Why Almost Everyone Has Trouble Saying No.

Ury's answer to "no" avoidance?

[S]erve your no sandwiched between two yeses. It will go down more easily and preserve your relationship yet still allow you to take a stand.

How does the famous "getting to yes" guy say "no"?  By "focusing on underlying interests instead of positions (discussing what you want instead of the way you've decided to get there) [and] developing another option ( . . . Plan B)."  To accomplish this goal, the negotiator must ask diagnostic questions about his bargaining partner's needs, fears, preferences and priorities.(.pdf of Northwestern Professor Leigh Thompson's enduringly great article Why Negotiation is the Most Popular Business School Course; see also chapter one of her must-read The Mind and Heart of the Negotiator here).

Assume, for instance, that you're selling software and your customer wants a broad indemnity agreement that amounts to a virtual insurance policy.  You know the type.  "I want to be indemnified for all litigation arising from my company's use of your software.  It's non-negotiable.  We'll pull out of the deal if you don't provide it to us."

Before saying "no, no, no" or feeling the need to temporize or mumble something unintelligible, determine whether your customer's demand is primarily being driven by need, desire, or fear.  Here, the underlying interest is perceived need based upon fear of potential liability.  Rest assured that your customer is not worried about everything.  There's some particular danger lurking in the back of his mine or in the contemplation of the manager to whom he's reporting. 

The diagnostic question is simple:  "what type of potential liabilities are you worried about?" When your customer answers your question, the "yeses" your "no" can be sandwiched between are legion.   

"We're always happy to craft an indemnity agreement that covers potential liabilities arising from, i.e., defects in the software that cause the type of harm you're worried about.  In fact, because infallible software has yet to be developed, we like to offer our customers a suite of services to quickly remedy any "defects" to prevent the liabilities you're concerned with.  And now that we're talking about it, let's define "defects" so that it fully expresses both of our understandings going forward.

The key is to slow yourself down during the negotiation so that you have time to reframe your "no" as an opportunity for both parties to get more of what they really want than they fear they need. 

As a former pastor of mine once told me, "God never says 'no' to a prayer.  S/he says 'yes,' 'later' or 'I have something better in store for you.'  Approach the material world in the same manner as he does and not only your opportunities, but your heart, will grow in the practice.  

Negotiating Reconciliation, Amends and Forgiveness in Burundi

Whenever I read about restorative justice (my paper on the topic here) I am somewhat ashamed that I cannot put aside my own grievances when others resolve harms of such major magnitudes such as the murder of children and genocide.  I am reminded of this today because of Paul and Rebecca Mosley's blog on the work they are doing in Burundi.


What relevance does this bear to my attempt to settle "pure money" litigation you ask.  First, I must say that there is no such thing as "pure money" litigation (see my paper on this topic here starting on page 60).  Second, the conflict of litigation is nothing compared to the matters resolved in a restorative justice session -- matters such as the murder of one's child and rape by one's own brother at knife-point (in the tragically mesmerizing Beyond Conviction). And in the unfortunately common outbreak of genocide such as that occurred in Rwanda

There is something for all of us to learn about the power of reconciliation of these matters of far greater import than the value of a breach of contract or even the infringement of a patent, trade mark, trade name or copyright.  In my own personal life I am forced to ask myself, in light of the courage displayed by these people, who I am not to forgive.

So today I bring you a recent post from Paul and Rebecca Mosley's blog Holy Week and Transitional Justice about their work in Barundi with the Mennonite Central Committee. These are the modest international heroes of the modern peace movement.  I will let them explain their work in their own words below.

I was invited to represent MCC at a meeting of Peace Church organizations working in Burundi. Representatives from The American Friends Service Committee, Quaker Peace Network, as well as others were in attendance. When asked what the AFSC saw as ‘flashpoints’ of conflict—anticipating and trying to prevent potential conflict flashpoints is an important part of peace work— they identified several problems. First, there is the continued problem of repatriated refugees coming back to land they had abandoned that is now occupied. There have been many ongoing land disputes that have often turned violent and even murderous. Secondly, there are the upcoming 2010 elections. There will be many political parties, including some fairly radical ones formed by recently demobilized rebel groups. Peaceful transfer of power is historically almost non-existent in sub-Saharan African nations and there is considerable anxiety about what will happen in the next 12 months. However, the biggest concern identified by AFSC was ‘transitional justice’. This is really a serious problem here and speaks to the greater problem of trying to bring to ‘justice’ those who have been guilty of past war crimes.

Here’s the problem: how do you persuade a government to pursue justice for those who are guilty of committing crimes in the past 14 years of civil war, when many perpetrators are now occupying seats of power in the government itself? Also, there is the ongoing undercurrent of ethnic conflict. Any attempt by one ethnic group to pursue ‘justice’ against another looks like retribution and not impartial arbitration. Add the complication of a highly politicized election, and this becomes a real conflict tinderbox. Doing nothing (letting sleeping dogs lie), however, is not an option as it fuels growing resentment in the population, as they see many known war criminals ‘getting away with murder.’

At the local level, MCC partners—particularly MiPAREC—have set up ‘peace committees’ in communities all over the country to try to introduce concepts of ‘restorative justice’ to resolve conflicts. This involves providing a forum for grievances to be aired, victims’ stories to be heard, and an opportunity for perpetrators to ask for forgiveness and make amends. They have had a great deal of success at the local level, but whether this type of reconciliation can be accomplished at the national level is an open question.

As I said, the problem is that there is no impartial arbitrator. Everyone is on some side, and many who would need to implement justice have blood on their own hands.

I am learning that justice is not a simple matter of getting the facts and making a ruling. Those in power can decide which facts are relevant and can largely determine who is tried and the outcome of any legal process.

What human beings are capable of—even at their best—is only a shadow of what I believe divine justice will look like. I am considering in a new way that passage in 2 Corinthians (5:17-21) that says we have been given “the ministry of reconciliation.” – which is the gospel! We may never be divine judges, but we have, in Jesus, the capacity for divine forgiveness. I pray this capacity will be shared in Burundi by those who follow him.

 

Outside the Box: Family Raffles Million Dollar Home

(right:  $24 million house from the Malibu Real Estate Blog)

Outside the box thinking to avoid foreclosure from MSNBC Woman Wins Million Dollar House in Raffle.

It was no ordinary raffle Friday for the 24,000 people who brought a $50 lottery ticket. They were playing for a chance to win a custom million-dollar home. The big drawing was held at Annapolis Mall. Karen McHale of Idaho Springs, Co., was the big winner.

"I couldn't believe it. I thought it was a crank call," McHale laughed during a phone interview Friday night from her Colorado home. "I'm one of those people that never win anything."

But win she did.

The prize is Tom Walters' 6,000-square-foot dream home in Edgewater, Md. Walters decided to raffle the house off after 15 months of construction and hundreds of thousands of dollars in renovations. His dream went bust when the economy tanked.

The home's property value plummeted at the same time Walters' paycheck shrank. When he could not find a buyer, Walters decided to raffle the house off. He sold 7,000 fewer tickets than he had hoped to. The tickets were sold online across the country and around the world.

Do You Need to Understand Your Legal Rights to Serve Your Interests?

Daily Journal Newswire Articles
www.dailyjournal.com
© 2009 The Daily Journal Corporation. All rights reserved.


 
FORUM (FORUM & FOCUS)  •  Jan. 08, 2009
Every Case Is a Winding Road

FORUM COLUMN

By Victoria Pynchon

I have a confession to make. I am about to become embroiled in litigation. Though I preach the religion of negotiated resolution, I've nevertheless hired litigation counsel to assert my rights and pursue my remedies.

This is one of those moments when the rubber of our ideology meets the road of personal circumstance, the moment we are called upon to decide to walk our talk or take the more familiar road.

For more than 30 years - first as paralegal, then as a law student and finally as a commercial litigator - I'd been swimming in the waters of legal rights and remedies. The adversarial ocean had become so familiar a habitat that it rarely occurred to me that I was under the surface. One day toward the end of my first year of mediation practice, a much more experienced friend hooked me by the cheek and threw me on the deck of his ship, where I was gasping for air.

He'd asked me to co-mediate a will contest without the benefit on my clergy - lawyers with experience in the field. The "fish out of water" conversation that ensued went something like this:

Joe Mediator: "The family doesn't want to hire a lawyer. They just want to mediate."

Vickie: "But I know absolutely nothing about wills, trusts and estates. The parties need to talk to a lawyer first to learn their rights and remedies."

Joe: "You still don't get it, do you?"

Vickie: "Get what?"

Joe: "It's not about rights and remedies. It's about interests."

Vickie: "But how can they evaluate their interests without knowing their rights and remedies?"

Joe: "Because they're not interested in what the law says - they want to do what they believe is right for them as a family under the circumstances."

These people wanted to resolve a legal dispute without knowing their legal rights? Were they nuts? I understood "interests" - they were all the rage in ADR circles - the desires, fears and needs of the parties that drove them to take legal positions. Sometimes those interests were non-economic - the need for revenge, the desire to be personally accountable, the fear of failure, the hope for forgiveness and reconciliation. Others, though economic, could not be remedied by way of damages - better access to foreign markets, for instance, or wider distribution chains; the acquisition of better manufacturing processes; or, the retention of executives with "pull" in Washington. But all of those matters were secondary to legal rights and remedies, weren't they? You had to know what your rights were.

To read entire article, click here.

Here's a .pdf of the article taken from the "hard copy" of the paper.

 

Arbitration and E-Discovery: Make Up Your Own #^%@ Law!

The National Law Journal's annoying practice of making its "best" content available only with a secret decoder ring forged in the fire of subscription dollars, nevertheless did not stop me from access to an intriguing article about arbitration's "e-discovery conundrum" (here for people with the secret code).

In Arbitration's e-Discovery Conundrum (thank you Mr. Thrifty for the copy) the author contends that:

. . . as litigation discovery techniques have become more prevalent in arbitration, arbitration has become just as time-consuming, expensive and burdensome. Without the benefit of an appeal process for the losing party, the primary remaining benefit for binding arbitration -- privacy -- is often outweighed by the other negative factors.

Parties and their litigation counsel have pointed to runaway discovery as one major reason why they have abandoned arbitration in favor of mediation in the United States and even internationally.

So how can "the long-recognized benefits of arbitration -- speed and cost savings -- be restored?"

(top:  is this what any of us went to law school for? Flowchart from Integreon)

The author recommends that the process must "address the needs and interests that led them to arbitration in the first place: to balance the need to discover those documents reasonably necessary for a party to prove its case with the cost, burden and time involved in producing such documents, while taking into account the need for fundamental fairness and to avoid surprise and trial by ambush."

Here's where reformers fail to get the direction the law is moving in.  It's not about finding a process that fits your needs - it's about creating the process that is tailor-made for your one and only completely unique and unrepeatable dispute.

The beauty of arbitration is not what it is.  It is what it can be.  The beauty of arbitration is that it allows you to make up your own $%#@^ law and procedure.  It restores control of the process to you.

What, you say?  Your opponent and you can't agree?  This is no longer a good enough reason, particularly because I do not see many attorneys making the effort to craft discovery and case management plans that reasonably addresses the parties' actual need for every document that someone marginally involved in the dispute might have once breathed upon.

I know whereof I speak.

The solution?  Sit down, for goodness sake, with your adversary, for as many days as it takes, to reach agreement about what each side actually needs.  Leave your huffing and your puffing, your posturing and your adversarial chops at the conference room door.  There will be plenty of time for all of that after the only people who actually understand the dispute -- YOU -- agree upon the type of process necessary to resolve it as efficiently and effectively as possible.

The law firms that do this will survive the recession. 

Negotiating Women: Never Negotiate Out of Fear, But Never Fear to Negotiate --

Video below is part I of an interview on negotiation challenges, strategies and tactics for women with

Vicki Flaugher, founder of SmartWoman GuidesThe full audio of the video is here along with Ms. Flaugher's kind comments about our conversation.   Ms. Flaugher describes her site resources as follows:

If you’re a beginning female entrepreneur or a women who is thinking about starting in business for herself, you have found your tribe. You have arrived at a safe place to talk about business. Especially if you are 35-55 years old, you are going to love this site because that’s a magic age time. You really discover who you are during those years and finally decide to do what you love instead of just what you’re “supposed” to do. The spirit of that revelation and all the promise it holds is why this site was created.

Now, Part I of Negotiating Women!

"Never Fear to Negotiate" from JFK's Inaugural Address with video here.

So let us begin anew -- remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate. Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.

Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms, and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.

Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce.

Let both sides unite to heed, in all corners of the earth, the command of Isaiah -- to "undo the heavy burdens, and [to] let the oppressed go free."

And, if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor -- not a new balance of power, but a new world of law -- where the strong are just, and the weak secure, and the peace preserved.

All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days; nor in the life of this Administration; nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.

 

Small Lessons for Lawyers and Business People in Building Community

Restorative justice is the criminal version of civil mediation.  It stresses accountability, admission of guilt, forgiveness and reconciliation.  It is the basis for Truth & Reconciliation Commissions that address harm done by one group of people to another that is rarely redressable by a criminal justice remedy.

Because there are so many lessons to be drawn from restorative justice principles and practices for the resolution of commercial disputes of all types, I occasionally post blog entries written by those who are involved in the restorative justice practice.  Here, for instance, is a story of community building drawn from the Restorative Justice and Circles blog.

I live in a small town 30 miles east of St. Paul in Western WI. There are several rent controlled apartment buildings in my neighborhood. When I first moved into the neighborhood (over 10 year ago), I noticed many of the children from the apartment buildings wandered around the neighborhood unsupervised in the summer time. Since I have an in ground heated pool in my back yard, and am a former life guard, I decided to open my pool to the neighborhood children one day per week during summer vacation. The response has been overwhelming. I have children of all ages show up on “open swimming” days. Many have no towels or swim suits and just jump into the warm water…clothes and all! They are so excited to swim in the pool. Two little elementary school aged girls were regulars this past summer and I was able to spend time getting to know them.

September came around and I closed the pool down. I decorated my house with scarecrows, corn, and pumpkins. One Saturday morning in early Sept my door bell rang. I opened the door to find my two little summer swimming friends. They were standing on my front porch with two new girls. The two new girls were unfamiliar to me. One of my little swimming friends said, “Mrs. Cranston these two girls stole your pumpkins. We made them come back and return the pumpkins and tell you they are sorry.”

Restorative Justice: Accountability and Forgiveness

When I read accounts like the one below, I always ask myself, "what trespasses have I suffered that would permit me not to forgive?"

As she sat in her boyfriend’s car, a young Texas woman named Dee Dee Washington was shot and killed — an innocent bystander of a drug deal gone bad. For 14 years, the man who fired the shot, Ron Flowers, never admitted to killing her — not until, that is, Ron was admitted to the InnerChange Freedom Initiative® (IFI), the prison program launched by Prison Fellowship in Texas.

IFI applies principles of restorative justice by confronting offenders with the harm they have done to their victims. During one of IFI’s Victim Awareness sessions, Ron finally admitted that he did commit the murder, and he prayed that his victim’s family would forgive him. He wrote a letter to Dee Dee’s mother, Mrs. Anna Washington, expressing his repentance and deep remorse.

For her part, Mrs. Washington had written angry letters every year to the parole board, urging them to deny Ron parole. But when Ron confessed, Mrs. Washington felt an overwhelming conviction that she should meet the man who had killed her daughter.

Prison Fellowship staff carefully prepared Mrs. Washington and Ron for the meeting. Mrs. Washington finally could ask the questions that virtually every victim wants to ask: “Why did you do it?” “How did it happen?” Ron reassured her that her daughter was not involved in the drug deal. As Ron told her about the day that he killed her daughter, Mrs. Washington took his hands in hers and said, “I forgive you.”

I was in Houston for Ron’s graduation from IFI. As Ron crossed the stage to receive his diploma, Mrs. Washington rose from her seat and walked over to embrace Ron, the man who had murdered her daughter. She then told all of us in the audience, “This young man is my adopted son.”

From the blog of the First Baptist Church of Perryville.

 

 

 

Sqaundering Legal Talent from Jordan Furlong

The management of the Obama campaign among the lowest level operatives (i.e., me making cold calls and walking precincts) reminded me of the way in which every organization squanders its resources.

I forgive the Obama campaign its trespasses because it was run by a dedicated, exhausted, physically ill cadre of poorly paid tweens -- tweens in this case being young people in that awkward period between University and real life or University and graduate school (listen to This American Life's spot-on audio-documentary on College Voter Registration Drives here).  In any event, the Field Organizers whose goal it was to make X number of telephone calls and knock on Y number of doors were young and inexperienced in using human resources of any kind other than perhaps the counter-staff at the local McDonalds.

So it was that during the course of the last days of the campaign in Henderson Nevada that I met a growing number of 40+ volunteers who had given up going to the campaign office after walking precincts because its management style was anti-Obama -- top down, inflexible, and numbers rather than people-driven.  Two of the three campaign buzzwords -- inspire and empower -- were lost in the tumult of real life.

Law firms, unlike local political campaign offices, are presumably being run by mature adult professionals who understand that which Obama Field Organizers could not.

If it takes 1,000 phone calls to recruit a single volunteer (or lavish summer programs; sky-high salaries; and, signing bonuses for first year associates) it's best to treat that volunteer or freshly minted lawyer like the valuable commodity they are.  When the local campaign head or firm manager rages out of his office and browbeats his human resources into (temporary) submission, he might as well be keying his own new Bugatti Veyron.

I won't repeat most of what Jordan Furlong has written in his terrific post The Perils of Squandering Talent (a must read ) but I will give you his bottom line:

the legal profession [may be] at risk of becoming the North American automobile industry, about to be hammered by market forces we never prepared for[.] Are our clients, fed up with the cost of tapping our traditional resource, ready to cast about for alternative sources of legal talent? And does your firm in any way foreshadow General Motors, a well-known name poised to collapse from short-term thinking and a failure to give customers what they want?

Why is a negotiation blog put to the task of examining the well being of the profession as a whole?  Because the negotiated resolution of disputes requires innovative, value-creating "out of the box" thinking as does the health of our profession in the 21st Century.  That's why I've begun a new post category - Outside the Box - so that we can continue exploring those issues critical to our survival as legal professionals.

 

 

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