Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

Read The Latest Post

Last week the California Supreme Court decided the Cassel case, reversing a decision of the Court of Appeal which had carved out an exception to mediation confidentiality.  The exception applied to certain communications between a party participating in a mediation and his own attorney, which the party subsequently sought to use in support of a malpractice claim against that attorney.  In a previous post on this topic, I argued that while questionable as statutory interpretation, such an exception should not unduly threaten the general principle of mediation confidentiality.  The Supreme Court’s opinion states that it understood the policy concerns that arise from shielding evidence of potential malpractice claims from scrutiny.  Nevertheless, the Court held that the plain language of the […]

I had the chance yesterday to lead two groups of first year law students at USC in some mock mediation sessions.  This is truly my idea of fun!  I was impressed by how eager these students were to learn how mediation is done in the real world.  It was also interesting to see how quickly untrained law students adopted many of the attitudes and tactics of experienced attorneys and parties in settlement negotiations.  When it comes to negotiating, we all have a lot of experience from a lifetime of doing it, so in a way we are all experts.  On the other hand, we are also mostly  amateurs in terms of the theory and science of negotiation, and could all […]

I did some posts this week on my political blog, trying to understand why voters seem so angry this campaign season.  After trotting out some of the usual suspects like our dysfunctional government, and the economy, I turned to the touchier subjects of intolerance, racism and xenophobia.  We certainly have a lot of problems to deal with in our country right now, but my mind keeps returning to the question of why we need to react to those problems with anger and recrimination.  Didn’t we, less than two years ago, embrace the promise represented by the Obama campaign, of trying to approach our problems with a spirit of cooperativeness and inclusiveness?   A majority of the country actually elected a […]

For Dodgers fans, this is shaping up to be a trying year, with the team a bit shy of the elements that are needed for post-season success, and with the issue of ownership of the team headed for an epic battle in divorce court.  Meanwhile, the story in the LA Times Saturday was about Frank McCourt adding a star trial lawyer to the team of legal talent he has arrayed against his wife. “It’s like having your best athletes take the field,” said Loyola Law School professor and legal commentator Laurie Levenson. “You’ll see the best fight possible.” I wonder whether they could fill Dodger Stadium with all of the people who would be excited to watch the best fight […]

A new study published by the American Psychological Association asked lawyers six to twelve months in advance of trial to set their minimum goals for the trial outcome and their predicted chances of reaching that goal.  The largest percentage of lawyers who participated in the survey fell short of their goals, and also expressed over-confidence in their chances of reaching their goals.  Interestingly, the lawyers’ level of experience did not produce better predictive results.  Also interestingly, women lawyers were somewhat closer to the mark in their predictions than their more over-confident male brethren. I don’t find these results surprising at all.  Lawyers must project confidence to their clients, otherwise clients will doubt whether their lawyer is on their side.  Lawyers […]