Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

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Twins, especially before they learn to speak our language, seem to share their own secret language, and communicate in ways that outsiders cannot understand. The two boys in the video clip below (well worth watching, even apart from its adorableness) also demonstrate that the words spoken in a conversation are much less important than we think they are. Perhaps intelligible language even distracts us from understanding the real substance of a conversation. When the words are unintelligible, that allows us to observe more closely the gestures and facial expressions that constitute most of the real communicating that people engage in. I might be fascinated by this video because I have twins of my own (teenagers now), and I still remember […]

I did a piece this week on my political blog, discussing, as many others have, Newt Gingrich’s recent inconsistent statements on our policy toward Libya.  One week he was for all for establishing a no fly zone and getting rid of Qaddafi, the next week he said the US should not have intervened. Some accused Gingrich of flip-flopping. I do not. What I accuse him of is reflexively setting himself against everything President Obama is for, and for everything the President is against. Since we hung back several weeks before intervening militarily in Libya, Gingrich attacked the administration for that. Once we intervened, Gingrich attacked the administration for that. I’m sure some of Newt Gingrich’s supporters prefer this stance of […]

What a shame, I told the participants in a mediation recently, that you people did not call me when this controversy started as a small, almost neighborly dispute, instead of waiting until it snowballed into a giant lawsuit. In this case, the plaintiff’s claimed damages had greatly escalated due to the delay in resolving the problem. That can happen in real estate or personal property disputes where a property might sit vacant or in deteriorating condition for a long time, and it can also happen in contractual disputes where the harm to one or both parties’ businesses increases by virtue of the continuance of controversy. It can happen in employment litigation when a party’s focus on the injustices of the […]

I remember hearing a lawyer joke about a father taking his son into his law practice, then going on the first extended vacation he had taken in many years. When he returned, the son said, “Great news, dad, I settled the Jarndyce case!”  Shocked, the father replied: “You fool! Don’t you realize that case put you through law school? Now what do we do to keep the practice going?” This joke came to mind when I read a guest post on Karl Bayer’s Disputing blog about a planned lawyers’ strike in Italy in response to a new statute mandating mediation prior to filing many kinds of civil cases. It seems these Italian lawyers might be worried about the prospect of […]

In talking recently with a friend and fellow attorney about the kinds of mediators most lawyers and litigants are looking for, I realized that most of what passes for mediation these days is not mediation as I would define it, at all. First there is arbitration-style mediation.  You go to a retired judge or similar knowledgeable authority figure. One side presents their case to the mediator.  Then the other side presents their case.  Then the mediator tells you what he thinks the case is worth. The only difference between that style of mediation and arbitration is that the parties are free to take the mediator’s opinion or leave it. But they have never really communicated with each other, and they […]