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<xTITLE>The Settlement Drift</xTITLE>

The Settlement Drift

by Jeffrey Krivis
July 2014

Disputing Blog by Karl Bayer and Jeffrey Krivis

Jeffrey Krivis

According to commentator Rachel Maddow in her book “Drift,” the way the United States goes to war has gradually become more secretive and less democratic. She observes that in the last half century, the decision to go to war has become too easy. This is contrary to what the Founders of our nation had in mind. Hence, we have “drifted” away from our founding principles about war.

The drift in our ability to go to war is similar to what has become of modern mediation in the litigation arena. Initially a product of the desire for more efficient and cost effective settlements, the mediation session was seen as the final play in the drama. The moment the curtain would close and the audience would applaud. The mediation session represented the end of the show and a chance to step back and look away from the play. All of the preparation that went into the production was effectively utilized to present the play, and the actors were on their best behavior. If the case had a chance to settle, it would. There were no excuses for parties not being prepared, authority levels not available, or decision makers hiding behind layers of bureaucracy. Cases resolved because the process was designed for closure.

Now, almost 25 years later, the mediation session has transformed itself into one additional step in the litigation menu. Certainly it is still a popular opportunity for case closure, but not necessarily in the minds of the litigants. The process has become strained to the point that the current approach is to schedule mediation without a sense of urgency. It is done to comply with a court order or simply as a matter of practice, with often no expectation of finality. It is often exhausting to be in the middle of this type of drift when the founders of the movement desired the mediation session to be the final moment in the play.

Biography


Improvisational Negotiation. This phrase summarizes Krivis’ philosophy for a successful and dynamic mediated negotiation. A successful mediation needs both keen legal insight gained from years of litigation experience and cannot be scripted.

Exploring this idea with further study led Krivis to venture on the stage as a stand-up comedian. Ultimately, he authored a book entitled Improvisational Negotiation: A Mediator’s Stories of Conflict About Love, Money and Anger – and the Strategies that Resolved Them (Wiley/Jossey-Bass 2006). This book received the 2006 Outstanding Book Award from the CPR International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution.

Krivis began his mediation practice in 1989 breaking open a niche in the Southern California dispute resolution landscape. He crafted a process that sets the stage for successful resolution. Through improvising, harmonizing, and always closing, he has resolved thousands of disputes including wage and hour and consumer class actions, entertainment, mass tort, employment, business, complex insurance, product liability and wrongful death matters.



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