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Priming for Likely Range of Outcomes

by Jan Frankel Schau
April 2013

View From the Middle of the Road Blog by Jan Frankel Schau

Jan Frankel Schau

It's been a tough week, nationwide. First there was the Boston Marthon Bombing and then the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas. In between, there were shootouts, captures and loads of probing questions. I found that it put everyone on edge all week as the news streamed throughout our office. For those reasons, I paid particular attention to attempting to focus the disputants in two of my mediations this week upon the negotiation at hand.

On Monday, I mediated a challenging race discrimination case. The challenge, in part, stemmed from the fact that the Plaintiff was still working for the governmental entity, who, he claimed, had discriminated against him, subtly, but hurtfully, for over a decade. Before commencing that mediation, I had to caution the defense lawyer that he may need to get more monetary authority than he had previously attained if he wanted to get the case settled. It was simple "priming" so that when the case got settled for something higher than his original authority (but less than the worst case scenario I painted for him), the defense lawyer and his client were well prepared to accept "the deal". In another case, I had an out-of-state Plaintiff suing her former divorce lawyer and because she was so long embittered and angry, she had communicated to me that she was prepared to go to trial unless she was certain she could get every last cent on the lawyer's malpractice policy. When she inevitably fell short in the negotiation, I had to prime her for the likelihood that if she chose to reject the offer at hand, she may have been met with an even smaller "pie" after the Defense lawyers spent considerable time and effort preparing for trial while she considered their "almost policy limits" offer.

Sometimes the only way to strike oil is to prime the pump until it begins to flow. It takes some effort and foresight, but the result is all the more satisfying.

Biography


Attorney Jan Frankel Schau is a highly skilled neutral, engaged in full-time dispute resolution. Following a successful career spanning two decades in litigation, she has mediated over 700 cases for satisfied clients. Ms. Schau understands the nuances of trial and settlement practice as well as client relations and balancing the needs of their representatives with the risk and expenses of trial. Those who have used Ms. Schau’s services recognize excellence in her persistence, optimism, creativity and integrity.

Ms. Schau was the President of the Southern California Mediation Association in 2007 and is recognized as among the most outstanding mediators in Southern California in the mediation of civil disputes by her peers and clients. She also serves as a Trustee of the Board of Directors of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association, and has presided as Chair of it’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Section and Litigation Section. She holds a Certificate of Advanced Skills in Negotiation from the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution of Pepperdine University as well as from the Western Law Center for Disability Rights at Loyola Law School.



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Website: www.schaumediation.com

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