Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

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At a CLE program I attended last week put on by the LA Superior Court and hosted by Pepperdine Law School, two of the panelists, Max Factor and Peter Robinson, got into something of a debate about how to handle an ethical situation. The topic concerned the mediator’s responsibilities when the mediator learns that one party to a mediation has slipped a potential land mine into a proposed agreement. Suppose the party inserting such a provision admits their deceitful intent and specifically instructs the mediator not to tell the other side of the land mine’s existence. Is the mediator bound to keep that information confidential? Perhaps, but to avoid being a party to a potential fraud, the mediator can at […]

I heard an amazing interview on the The World radio program today, with a young American Army commander, Captain Michael Kolton,  who decided to reach out and forge a relationship with one of the Taliban commanders that his unit was fighting in Afghanistan. (transcript here) Captain Kolton made a deal with his Taliban counterpart, a man known as Massoud. Kolton told Massoud that as long as he called every week, the Americans would not hunt him down. Massoud made sure to call every week, and the two men continued to meet and get to know each other. Pretty soon, Massoud was giving Kolton the best intelligence he had ever received, and both found they had more to talk about than […]

The fourth volume of Robert Caro‘s biography of Lyndon Johnson is finally out. Covering the period from about 1958-1964, the years of Johnson’s vice-presidency and transition to the presidency, this book features the legendary feud between Johnson and Bobby Kennedy.  These two men hated each other from the moment they met, when Bobby Kennedy was a staffer for Senator Joe McCarthy, for whom Johnson had no respect. Matters only went downhill from there. This was a bitter rivalry of Shakespearean dimensions, that had immense consequences for our country’s history. I’m not yet halfway through this thick book, but can already report how fascinating it is to read Caro’s reconstruction of the day in the middle of the 1960 Democratic convention […]

George Santayana said that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. In the business of resolving legal disputes, we encounter parties who remember the past all too well. Each side might remember the past in a somewhat different way, but both sides can give a detailed recitation of every event in the past that created the dispute. Yet they repeat it anyway. What I have observed during a long time spent guiding clients through the progress of lawsuits, are the opportunities that lawsuits provide for parties to repeat exactly the same behaviors that created the original conflict. Before they filed suit, parties might have a dispute about performance of a contract, or some claimed wrongful action […]