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The Importance of Pre-Hearing Telephone Conferences

by Jan Frankel Schau
May 2013

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

Jan Frankel Schau

It's not a new concept, but it always bears repeating. Prior to every mediation, I try to reach the parties to find out what they have discussed by way of settlement before the mediation. This week, I was unable to reach the Plaintiff's counsel, but the defense told me that he had been trying to reach his opposing counsel by telephone since the lawsuit was initiated. He had left over 30 messages--and never received a return phone call in the 6 months that the case was pending!

The case involved a wage and hour claim brought by a disgruntled employee who was terminated last year after an alleged assault and battery of a co-worker at a car maintenance yard. Because he had been unable to reach the Plaintiff's attorney, Defense counsel earnestly expected that the opposing party would not show up for the mediation and the case would proceed to a trial or default. But alas, the attorney did show up with his client, and began by informing me that his client had been offered a significant settlement by his former employer before he filed the lawsuit. The only fact that had changed since then, was that attorneys fees had mounted, so his demand was now twice as much as it had been at the time this purported offer had been made. The trouble with that logic was that Defendant had been eager to settle at the exact amount of the alleged wage loss before all of the attorneys time had been incurred. And they weren't budging from that place--rewarding Plaintiff's attorneys for billing a lot of unnecessary time.

Ultimately, it did settle at the value of the wage loss and Plaintiff and his attorney lost an opportunity to get full value on the case by their stubborn refusal to answer the telephone calls of the defendant. Telephones are never further than your pocket these days. The failure to use them is, in my view, is inexcusable!

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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