October 2014 – Just Resolve provides businesses with swift and affordable justice through its fixed fee, neutral driven dispute resolution services.

Who Resolves Disputes?

The theme for this month’s Just Resolve newsletter is who decides disputes. Should you file a lawsuit and leave it up to a judge or jury? Or are you required to go the arbitration or mediation route because you agreed to do so in your contract? Is the person deciding your case a retired judge or industry expert? Did you have a choice of decision maker? The articles and blogs highlighted in our newsletter cover some of the reasons that might push you to choose a particular way to resolve your dispute based upon who will decide it.

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“Just Resolve changes the dispute resolution construct from win/lose to win/win – by driving the cost, stress and gamesmanship out of the process.”

Frank York, Butler Construction


Click here to request a Just Resolve presentation on how to resolve disputes fairly without going down the costly litigation path. 

Meet us at the
ACC Annual Meeting
October 28-31, 2014
New Orleans, LA
Rob Christopher, CEO
Sonya Sigler,
VP Business Development


by Rob Christopher

Like most first times, my first Resolve was at once flawed, satisfying and memorable.  Here’s the story.

I took a call from Bruce, a former client who had moved to the Midwest.  His new business had a claim for reimbursement of warranty repairs in the automotive design field against a business customer in California.  His problem was that the claim was only for about $40,000, so he was looking for a solution in which legal fees wouldn’t consume most or all of what was at stake.  I thought he had called me because my brand new company, Just Resolve, offered that.  No, he was calling someone he trusted for a good idea.  It was my lucky day.

I suggested he not retain me as his attorney, but instead let me contact his counterpart acting as a neutral facilitator dedicated to helping disputing parties in modest commercial matters resolve their differences by a neutral-expert-driven method without having to lawyer up.  Bruce asked how the process would be  different from mediation or arbitration.   Among other things, I explained that in these traditional, lawyer-driven alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) paths, the neutrals essentially react to what the parties’ advocates investigate and formally present, as compared with Just Resolve’s innovative “Un-ADR” approach in which our neutral forum and neutral arbiters pro-actively drive all process to the practical benefit of all.  I also told Bruce that if he’d take this chance on my new business instead of asking me to be his attorney and write a traditional demand letter, I’d do it for free.  Finally, I further explained that, if the other party also honestly believed in the merits of his position (as hard as it was for Bruce to believe that), my approach would reveal this and present a viable way for the parties to resolve the dispute without consuming more time and cost than the stakes justified.  On the other hand, if the other party was just “gaming” Bruce, that too likely would be both revealed and invaluable in deciding how he should go forward.  Of course, if Bruce took me up on this, I would be disqualified to act as his attorney.

I don’t know which was more persuasive -- my wonderfully constructed argument, or “free” (we lawyers always over-value a good argument) – but either way it was an offer he couldn’t refuse.  So, after hearing Bruce’s side of the story, I wrote his antagonist, Mike.  My letter generically identified the dispute, introduced my approach, didn’t argue Mike was wrong, disclosed my prior history with Bruce, and explained what likely would play out if they started down the adversarial path.  The letter also announced that Bruce was willing to put the matter in the hands of a neutral retired judge to be mutually agreed and paid a fixed fee.  I proposed a total fee of only $3,000 per party, based on the small number of truth-focused hours that would be needed to sort out the merits -- about what it would cost to hire a lawyer to pull together one side’s essential facts and law, write a demand letter or reply, and maybe begin to negotiate a possible settlement.

I was almost surprised when Mike invited me to call him.  Like Bruce, he couldn’t believe the “other guy” might possibly be in the right.  But hearing that Bruce believed this, and believed it so strongly to be willing to put his fate in the hands of a neutral judge without a lawyer’s advocacy, changed everything, breaking the logjam between them.  Oh, Mike still believed that Bruce was dead wrong, and vice versa, but the two of them were then able to talk again and, soon thereafter, reached a compromise.  They both were most appreciative.  While I didn’t get to facilitate a complete resolve process, I was extremely gratified to validate the inherent power of this “honest broker” approach.  Of course, another “flaw” was that I didn’t get paid for my valuable service.  The next time, I fixed that too.

Who Decides?

by Sonya L. Sigler

Who decides the outcome of your dispute when you can't resolve it yourself? The answer, as any good lawyer will tell you, is "it depends." It depends on what dispute resolution method the parties choose to use and what kind of dispute it is.

Judge or Jury
If you litigate through trial in State or Federal Court, a judge or jury will decide your case. Usually, if there is a potentially strong emotional element to the case, at least one party will want to choose a jury trial for the disputed facts in the case. ...Read more of Sonya's blog


How Much Does It Cost for a Judge to Decide?

Estimating costs of litigation through a judge trial or jury award can be tricky. Lawyers don't always agree on those costs or what they will be at the beginning of a case, so it is hard to know whether to litigate in the first place or to use another method of dispute resolution. In one industry study, the average cost of a contract dispute that was litigated through the trial phase was $91,000.  Read more…
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