Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

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The problem with payment plans is that they are a nuisance to enforce. It seems that more often than not, the party that is supposed to make the payments at some point stops keeping up with its obligations, and the party to whom the payments are due has to take some action to get the payment plan back on track. Naturally, people at the time of entering into such arrangements usually want to avoid these problems. The debtor wants an agreement that they can perform, and the creditor wants the best enforcement tools available to make sure the payments are made. One common technique is to provide that in the event of default, judgment can be entered for an amount […]

Online dispute resolution was developed to create a more efficient system than the courts are capable of providing, especially for relatively small cross-border and internet transactions. Courts are simply too expensive and too cumbersome to resolve these kinds of conflicts. The nature of online communications allows for a more flexible conflict resolution process, one that is not tied to any one jurisdiction’s legal rules and procedures. The vast majority of these online disputes are resolved by informal means, facilitated by the speedy communications allowed by the internet. Is ODR therefore a form of ADR? Not necessarily. Remember that even the traditional, physical courthouse steers most cases toward informal resolution, whether by direct negotiation between the parties, settlement conferences with a […]

Collaborative law has firmly established itself in the family law arena, where parties (and attorneys) are often willing to commit in advance to do everything they can to resolve divorce cases out of court. Not so much on the civil side, where the whole idea appears antithetical to traditional litigators. There have been attempts in the past to make civil litigation more, well . . . civil, but the codes that were created in some jurisdictions to encourage more gentlemanly (or ladylike) conduct never seem to get at the root of the problem. The root of the problem lies in the nature of the adversarial system itself, and its tendency to encourage adversarial behavior. More recently, however, it seems that […]

The September issue of Advocate magazine (published by CAALA, the Consumer Attorneys Associations for Southern California) contains an article I wrote prompted by the funding crisis in California courts. These court cutbacks, which will cause delays and other problems in working cases through the court system, should cause the consumers of court services–both litigants and attorneys–to rethink the way they use the court system. The title is borrowed from the fall conference I am helping to organize for the Southern California Mediation Association. Part of my article describes the new “Select a Mediator” program designed by SCMA in response to the closure of the LA County Superior Court’s ADR program. I also offer some suggestions for conducting litigation in an […]

I recently mediated a case pending in federal court, in which we had a productive session that brought the parties a lot closer to resolution. Both sides had agreed that only the main defendant needed to attend the mediation, as the others lived on the other side of the country and had little willingness or ability to contribute anyway. But at the end of the session, there was still a gap to bridge, and defendants’ counsel proposed that he confer with these absent parties to see if they could raise enough additional commitments to close the gap. We left it that counsel would continue settlement discussions between themselves, and call me in if necessary. Both sides left in a positive […]