Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

Read The Latest Post

Getting closer to the deadline for avoiding the so-called “fiscal cliff,” the budget negotiations between President Obama and House Speaker Boehner have reached a delicate stage, with the president suggesting concessions some of his supporters are having difficulty swallowing, and the speaker threatening a “Plan B” that would circumvent the deal the two principal negotiators have been discussing. These negotiations are a little different from those that typically occur in mediation, where the negotiators (usually lawyers) are usually constrained by the clients in advance from offering anything the clients have not authorized. In this negotiation, the “clients” take the form of members of the House and Senate, an unruly bunch on both sides. The extent of the authority they have […]

I posted something on my political blog about two competing ballot propositions before California voters this November. Both aim to improve the state’s financial condition and raise money for education, but each attacks the problem in a somewhat different way. One is sponsored by the governor and the other by a private organization. Polling has indicated majority support for the governor’s proposition, but now there may be a real danger that both propositions go down to defeat. Why? Because the competition between the two measures has sparked negative messages by each side against the other. As soon as we have two ideas before us on how to fix a problem, we naturally start comparing them to decide which one we […]

Watching the ongoing negotiations over a budget deal needed to avert a government shut-down, which are approaching the eleventh hour tonight, once again we see a pattern that is common in labor negotiations and many other kinds of negotiations in which parties are forced to stay up all night, and the outcome remains in doubt up until the deadline or even beyond the deadline. It’s not just procrastination that creates this dynamic.  In the budget negotiations, there are some serious substantive issues at stake, and the ultimate shape of the deal does make a real difference in people’s lives. But in terms of large issues such as the size of this year’s deficit, the difference between the two sides is […]

As trials in civil cases have become increasingly rare, in part due to the rise of ADR, we sometimes forget that trials can serve a profound purpose.  There are few processes that can “decide” a contested factual issue like a trial.  Below is a video of David Boies debating Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council.  Boies’s explanation of  what happened at the recent Proposition 8 trial, makes me proud to call myself a trial lawyer, and reminds us of what courts can do at their best.  Even if you think the courtroom was not an appropriate place to determine the constitutional validity of a state initiative denying gay people the ability to marry, you have to admire trial […]

I read today that the Los Angeles Conservancy got the owners of the Century Plaza Hotel to agree to preserve the key historic features of the hotel in their plan to develop the property.  (My prior post on that dispute is here.)  Coincidentally, I saw a post today on Victoria Pynchon’s blog about a preservation dispute in Dallas, raising the question whether internet comments on newspaper blogs and similar forums can assist in resolving such disputes. Of course public comments can be helpful in putting ideas on the table, and in ascertaining the extent of public support for preservation of an historic landmark, or for the development that threatens that landmark.  But commenting on Victoria’s post  reminded me that what […]