Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

Read The Latest Post

At a Southern California Mediation Association meeting I attended today, we heard a version of a talk that Presiding LA Superior Court Judge McCoy has been giving around the county about the effects state budget cutbacks are having on our local courts.  These cuts could increase the time from filing to trial of civil cases from about 18 months currently to two or more times that long. One might think that court delays would increase the demand for alternative dispute resolution, but while that might hold true for arbitration, it does not seem to increase the demand for mediation.  If we are going through a transitional period where the lag time for civil cases is increasing, that means parties have […]

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 […]

“Preparation, preparation, preparation,” is the trial lawyer’s mantra. It is possible to over-try a case, but it is not possible to be over-prepared for trial. On the other hand, preparation is expensive. And preparation may seem wasteful, if the case does not go to trial, as most cases don’t. So most trial lawyers would rather avoid burdening their clients with unnecessary costs, i.e., costs that are not going to help try the case if it must be tried, or that would help settle the case, which might mean costs that show the other side that you will be well-prepared for trial. Parties go to mediation precisely to avoid the enormous costs of preparing for trial. As long as they have […]

An article from Pacific Business News shows just how dramatically the number of jury trials has dropped off in the State of Hawaii, where only 17 civil jury trials were completed in the state courts last year.  The trend appears to be the same everywhere, though perhaps not to the drastic extent that has been accomplished in Hawaii.  The article attributes this decline to court-sponsored arbitration and mediation programs.  For example, all personal injury and other tort cases with a value of less than $150,000 are sent to arbitration.  Should mediators be happy about this trend, representing as it does the triumph of alternative dispute resolution, to the point that trial has become a vanishing breed?  One unhappy trial lawyer […]