Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

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At the end of 2009, both houses of Congress accomplished the remarkable feat of passing comprehensive health insurance reform legislation.  The only problem: the two versions of the legislation are significantly different.  To resolve those differences called for either a conference committee (an idea the Democrats rejected, since they felt it would only be used for delay by the Republicans), or a negotiated behind-the-scenes reconciliation of the two bills, or passage by one or the other chamber of Congress of exactly the version of the bill passed by the other.  So it would seem that we should have been very close to the goal of getting health insurance reform to the president’s desk.  The hard work was done, and only […]

The practice of quickly moving to caucus sessions has become so widespread that many parties attending mediation seem to expect to caucus almost immediately.  Parties seem to want to cut to the chase of settlement negotiations quickly, and are concerned about the possible volatility of a joint session.  I had a couple of experiences recently where counsel expressly asked me before the mediation even began to please not even allow the parties into the same room at all, because they viewed it as a waste of time, or worse, to face the other side.  My response was to suggest that we at least stay together for introductions and some initial housekeeping matters, and then continue in joint session only for […]

I read today that the Los Angeles Conservancy got the owners of the Century Plaza Hotel to agree to preserve the key historic features of the hotel in their plan to develop the property.  (My prior post on that dispute is here.)  Coincidentally, I saw a post today on Victoria Pynchon’s blog about a preservation dispute in Dallas, raising the question whether internet comments on newspaper blogs and similar forums can assist in resolving such disputes. Of course public comments can be helpful in putting ideas on the table, and in ascertaining the extent of public support for preservation of an historic landmark, or for the development that threatens that landmark.  But commenting on Victoria’s post  reminded me that what […]

In a post on my political blog, I discussed the president’s plan to hold a bipartisan session on health insurance reform, which at face value seems to represent an offer to mediate or negotiate a consensus bill, or at least to invite the Republicans back into the process. The Republican leadership has responded by demanding that the Democrats admit that their whole effort to reform the health care system was a mistake and that they agree to start over. The Democrats don’t seem inclined to do that, but they don’t seem to expect they will persuade many Republicans to support the bills passed by the House or Senate either.  Rather, their offer to hold a public negotiating session may aim […]