Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

Read The Latest Post

Everyone is talking about President Obama’s little dig at his opponents when he reminded them of his two election victories. But the part of the State of the Union speech that should get mediators excited is the following: “So the question for those of us here tonight is how we, all of us, can better reflect America’s hopes. I’ve served in Congress with many of you. I know many of you well. There are a lot of good people here, on both sides of the aisle. And many of you have told me that this isn’t what you signed up for – arguing past each other on cable shows, the constant fundraising, always looking over your shoulder at how the […]

In an interview published in the LA Times a couple of weeks ago, the new Los Angeles city attorney Mike Feuer was asked about his approach to a well-publicized case in which the city has been enjoined from removing personal property that homeless people leave on public sidewalks. (The case is currently on appeal.) His response: There are elements of this litigation I see as an opportunity to solve a problem. Litigation is rather a blunt instrument and has yet to get to the underlying issues. The fact that there is litigation means there has been a failure of public policy. It’s important to address homelessness in a nuanced way. I’m committed to striking a balance that enhances conditions for homeless […]

I’ve been working with my co-chair Robyn Weinstein to put together SCMA’s 25th annual fall conference, to take place in Malibu on November 2, 2013. Our theme this year is “Crisis and Opportunity: Expanding the Field of Conflict Resolution.” The theme is drawn in part from our organization’s efforts to create new opportunities for mediators in the wake of the unexpected closing of the Los Angeles County Superior Court ADR program. But there are plenty of other crises all around. Take your pick of them. Our aim is to get people thinking about how the tools and tricks of our trade can be used to solve a myriad of problems, from international conflict to partisan gridlock in Washington to environmental […]

Sometimes as an attorney representing a party in negotiations you might have an unreasonable client, who refuses to give any ground to the other side on a particular point, somehow failing to understand that it is impossible to make a deal without conceding something to your opponent. Sometimes you have an unreasonable adversary, who seems uninterested in making a deal except on their own terms. And sometimes you have both. That seems to describe the position of President Obama in current budget negotiations. The president is facing outrage from his fair weather supporters on the left for suggesting that he is open to changing benefit formulas for Social Security as part of a budget deal with Congressional Republicans. The concept […]

One of the panels I attended at the ABA Section on Dispute Resolution spring conference turned into something of a psychology experiment. The presenters asked the participants to sit around a series of circular tables, and assigned each table a role to play as groups interested in a proposed canal project for a hypothetical harbor. My table was assigned to play several environmental groups opposed to the project for differing reasons, another table represented shipping company owners concerned about the cost, another represented union interests favorable to the project, and another represented government representatives sponsoring the project. We were asked to discuss among ourselves our concerns about the process that was supposed to take into account all of these different […]