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Civility Or Benevolent Dictatorship?

Today is my son, Zach’s birthday. He is a man of many facets: a musician, a sharp business mind, a bon vivant, athletic, handsome, sweet, creative, tough, ambitious, and all around great guy. And so he brings me to consider my own multi-faceted business practices. I have been struggling this week with the objectives of both litigators and mediators in settling challenging commercial cases. On Monday, I lectured at a lawfirm on “Civility” and was struck by the ease with which litigators could rationalize less civil conduct than the State Bar’s Civility Guidelines dictate could be ignored in the context of litigation. Then this morning’s New York Times included an essay called “The Bipartisanship Racket” by Frank Rich Rich talked about the shortcomings of a new movement of “No Labels” and contrasts it with the much needed “leadership” virtues. At a holiday party last week for the Southern California Mediation Association (SCMA) my own trainer, Therese White asked me whether I employed an “Evaluative” style in mediation. I had to think for a few minutes. And then, in another article in the New York Times this morning, there was a profile of Bruce Flatt, of Brookfield Asset Management, who is known for his excellent skills in negotiation and has been called a “Benevolent dictator”. My synthesis of this is that the two strains: civility and “heavy metal” evaluative mediation can be effectively combined. With civility as the overarching framework (ie: true benevolence) a form of dictatorship, although anathema to true mediation, may be the only way that challenging litigated cases can be effectively resolved. If the parties or the lawyers knew how to settle their claims without a benevolent third party dictator, they wouldn’t need a private mediation! Something to consider…

                        author

Jan Frankel Schau

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… MORE >

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