“I’m not interested in the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Committee. I’m a trial lawyer. My clients want a lawyer who can try their cases.”
I, too, am a trial lawyer, as are many of you reading this article. However, the fact is that I settle many more cases than I try, not because I can’t try them, but because the settlement was a good result for the client (based on sound professional advice) and the client agreed.
So, let’s step back and correct the myth about ADR. While there are certainly many professional neutrals, mediators, arbitrators and, yes, judges involved in “alternative dispute resolution,” so is each and every practicing attorney. We negotiate on a daily basis. We negotiate the fee arrangements and terms of engagement for each new matter we take on – litigation or otherwise. We negotiate with opposing counsel as to discovery, depositions, and trial settings. If our practice is non-litigation, we negotiate as to the terms of the deal or transaction. We negotiate in real estate law, family law, and estate planning.
Alternative Dispute Resolution means achieving a favorable negotiated result (putting aside arbitration, which is, of course, a form of trial, and which we will be discussing at our May CLE). Thus, we are all practicing ADR.
The issues involving resolving disputes prior to trial impact all of us, and this committee’s focus this year is to try to broaden the areas of discussion to tap into the successful techniques practicing lawyers use and issues of interest in our daily practice.
Magistrate Judge Michael North was our first guest, and we enjoyed a lively discussion about his process conducting settlement conferences and his observations as to what makes an effective advocate. There were many questions and Judge North gave the attorneys the benefit of both his many years as a practicing attorney as well as his year’s tenure on the federal bench.
Our next meeting, a CLE, will be held on May 13th and noted expert Professor Edward Sherman will discuss “Revising Louisiana’s Archaic Arbitration Laws: Goodbye to ‘Amicable Compounders’ and Questions of Arbitration in Estates and Trusts (the Tom Benson example)”.
We are in the process of planning the substance of our July 15th meeting, but confidentiality of attorney settlement negotiations is the topic. On September 16th, we will have a joint CLE with the Family Law Session.
Attorneys practice alternative dispute resolution on a daily basis. Join us to discuss strategies and issues related to negotiation. If you can’t share a tip, perhaps you’ll pick one up.