A Presidential Take on Alternative Dispute Resolution

This week we celebrate Presidents Day. Today, as the role of ADR in litigation continues to develop and take a greater role in the dispute resolution process, we look back to our 16th President and the thoughts that Lincoln expressed related to compromise. Lincoln, by the end of his life, probably had a deeper understanding of the cost of fighting and the toll it takes on individual. Whether right or wrong, he understood the cost and reward of litigation.

As always, if you have any questions about your real estate, business, estate planning, or any other legal issue, please let us know by e-mailing managing shareholder Keith Dunnagan at kbdunnagan@bpelaw.com.

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A Presidential Take on Alternative Dispute Resolution
By: Meghan M. Dunnagan, Esq.

Our Sixteenth President, Abraham Lincoln, is remembered by many as one of the greatest Presidents in United States history. Even a casual student of history may recall that “Honest Abe” was a self-taught lawyer long before he ever sought national political office. Indeed, history remembers President Lincoln as a distinguished lawyer, who, as his nickname recalls, was unfailingly truthful.

Among Lincoln’s writings, we find some advice for members of the legal profession. One of his tips for lawyers in the 1800’s rings true today:

“Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser — in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good [person]. There will still be business enough.” (Notes for a Law Lecture, 1850.)

The word “compromise” can suggest the idea of leaving something on the table or admitting defeat. But as Lincoln pointed out, even winning at litigation can come at a great cost, not only in terms of dollars and cents, but time and emotional investment as well.

What Lincoln called “compromise,” we now know as “Alternative Dispute Resolution,” or ADR. California’s courts are increasingly busy and overloaded, and litigation even on simple issues can take months or even years before reaching the infamous “day in court.” In many cases, mediation, arbitration, or other forms of settlement negotiation can provide opportunities to resolve disputes more quickly and at reduced cost compared to taking a matter to trial. In fact, many contracts, including the CAR forms now include optional or mandatory mediation or arbitration provisions.

Determining when a case is a good candidate for alternative dispute resolution can be difficult, and each situation should be examined and investigated on its own merits. Should you find yourself in a situation wondering if you are required to mediate/arbitrate or if mediation or arbitration might be a good alternative to litigation, seek competent legal assistance to help evaluate your situation. The attorneys at BPE Law Group are confident advocates in the courtroom, but also have significant experience when it comes to mediation and arbitration and can assist you in reviewing the various options for alternative dispute resolution.

A complete copy of the speech follow this link.

The attorneys of BPE Law Group, PC. have been advising our clients on real estate, business and estate planning issues for over 20 years and have assisted numerous clients in probate, business and real estate matters and have represented and advised brokers on their professional obligations as well as consumers on their rights. If you have questions concerning legal matters, give us a call at (916) 966-2260 or e-mail Keith at kbdunnagan@bpelaw.com. Our flat fee consult for new clients may get you the answers you need for the questions you have.

The information presented in this Article is not to be taken as legal advice. Every person’s situation is different. If you are facing a legal issue of any kind, get competent legal advice in your State immediately so that you can determine your best options.