Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

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At a Southern California Mediation Association meeting I attended today, we heard a version of a talk that Presiding LA Superior Court Judge McCoy has been giving around the county about the effects state budget cutbacks are having on our local courts.  These cuts could increase the time from filing to trial of civil cases from about 18 months currently to two or more times that long. One might think that court delays would increase the demand for alternative dispute resolution, but while that might hold true for arbitration, it does not seem to increase the demand for mediation.  If we are going through a transitional period where the lag time for civil cases is increasing, that means parties have […]

Whenever an attorney involved in a mediation asks me if their client can be available by telephone, I am usually reluctant to agree.  If the case is important enough to require my personal attention, should it not be important enough to the parties to compel their presence?  After all, it’s their case.  It also seems intuitively obvious–though I’m sure there are studies to back this up–that mediation is more likely to be successful if people take it seriously enough to attend in person, and if they have the opportunity to communicate face-to-face at least with the mediator and preferably with the other side.  Or maybe I just feel that phone mediation, like phone sex, can never be as satisfying as […]

Attacking proposed arms control agreements is a time-honored political game.  Virtually every major arms control treaty between the US and the Soviet Union was subjected to fierce criticism from hard line Senators.  Either the deals were too generous to the other side, or they did not provide adequate verification, or they limited US freedom to develop important weapons systems.  This feature of Cold War politics has now been revived by Mitt Romney, past and presumptively future Republican Presidential candidate.  No doubt hoping to burnish his foreign policy credentials, Romney has come out strongly against the proposed START treaty with Russia, in an article in the Washington Post.  I’m not going to get into a detailed point-by-point discussion of Romney’s attacks […]

Many people are just not comfortable with face-to-face negotiations.  Even when parties to a mediation are willing to meet for a joint session to discuss the circumstances of the conflict, they generally prefer to break into separate rooms when it comes time to negotiate a settlement.   Sometimes I wonder why people don’t behave in the opposite way.  You might think they would be reluctant to reveal their trial evidence, or talk about personal issues in front of the opposing party and counsel.  Instead they are more likely to wish to get these aspects of the dispute out in the open, while preferring secrecy when they are ready to make a deal.  Perhaps that is because people doubt their skills as […]