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We continue our Alternative Dispute Resolution Series with a discussion of Early Neutral Evaluation.

We continue our Alternative Dispute Resolution Series with a discussion of Early Neutral Evaluation. Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE), also known as “Neutral Case Evaluation” and “Case Evaluation,” is when one or both parties use a third-party neutral to evaluate the strength of their case, generally early in the life of the dispute. Just as with arbitration and mediation, there are different forms and styles of ENE, but the core structure is the same. In ENE, the third-party neutral reviews the evidence, listens to parties’ summaries of their cases, and gives the parties a written evaluation of the case.

The Benefits of Early Neutral Evaluation

Parties, including clients and their attorneys, often inaccurately assess the strength of a case. This can lead to…

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Early Neutral Evaluation


In today's blog post, we discuss three mediation strategies and explain why using these strategies will increase your chances of success.

In our Alternative Dispute Resolution Series , we highlighted why mediation and arbitration are increasingly popular alternatives to litigation in business disputes. In this post, we’ll dive into three strategies you should employ when mediating a dispute.

Mediation is a commonly used alternative dispute resolution (ADR) method where parties can enlist the help of a third-party neutral (the mediator) to hopefully come to a resolution. As we discussed in our earlier post in the ADR Series, in mediation, the parties in dispute have much more control over the process than they would have in litigation. In this post, we’ll discuss how parties can take advantage of this process in order to increase their likelihood of success:

1. Separate the people from the problem

It is…

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Mountain Climbing


In this blog post, we discuss arbitration, the other very popular Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) method.

In our last post in the Alternative Dispute Resolution Series, we discussed the growing ADR industry and the basics of mediation. In this post, we’ll discuss the other very popular ADR method, arbitration.

In arbitration, a third-party neutral (arbitrator) hears both sides of a dispute and decides on a specific issue or award. Often, an arbitration is very similar to a trial, because the parties will present opening statements, evidence, witnesses, and closing statements. Witnesses are also generally subject to direct and cross examination. However, the biggest difference is that the arbitrator takes the place of the decision maker in a trial. After the arbitrator reviews the evidence and hears the case from both sides, he or she will issue a…

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public library


In this post in the ADR series, we discuss how mediation works and what you can expect at a mediation.

Mediation is a process where a third-party neutral (the mediator) guides the parties through the negotiation process, and the parties decide on a mutually-beneficial agreement. Mediation is generally a non-binding alternative to litigation that allows parties to work with a neutral to air their grievances and receive neutral feedback on how best to reach a resolution.

Mediation dates back to ancient cultures. The traditions of Confucianism and Buddhism encourage finding agreement through moral persuasion rather than coercion. The Ancient Greeks and Romans employed intercessors in settling disputes. And as the world became more connected, mediation took on a significant role in international relations. The United Nations Charter names mediation as an important means for peaceful resolution of conflicts.

In the United States, influenced…

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mediation history


In this series, we'll discuss the basics of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and dive into the details of mediation, arbitration, etc.

The phrase “Alternative Dispute Resolution” (ADR) refers to the different methods parties in conflict use to resolve disputes rather than filing a traditional lawsuit in court. The process can be as simple as meeting to discuss a possible settlement or as formal as an arbitration that can look a lot like a trial. ADR is growing industry, because many “consumers” are fed up with the high costs of lawyers and litigation and the uncertainty surrounding a drawn out court battle. ADR generally decreases costs and expedites the process of reaching an agreement between parties in dispute. It’s popularity and benefits are so valued that many courts now require parties to a suit to go through mandatory arbitration or mediation before…

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alternative dispute resolution


This latest post in our Understanding Your Commercial Lease series discusses brokers, including the costs and benefits of hiring a broker to represent you.

If your business is seriously thinking about leasing new commercial space, you will need to identify the space, negotiate the terms of a deal, enter into a letter of intent, and then negotiate a commercial lease agreement to define your rights in your new space. This process can be complicated, and it can also be relatively simple. Whether it is complex or simple depends on factors such as your intended use, the term of the lease, the size of the space, the availability of space in the market, and other factors. Usually it is somewhere in between. Regardless of the size of your lease, you can benefit from the services of a licensed commercial real estate leasing broker.

A broker can be…

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Commercial Lease Agreement Broker


In this blog post we discuss how contingent contracts can be an important tool in reaching agreements, allocating risk, and aligning interests.

When you are negotiating an agreement, there are all sorts of ways contract discussions can break down. Often when negotiations become difficult, a contingent contract is a compromise that can lead to a mutually beneficial resolution.

What Is a Contingent Contract?

A contingent contract is an agreement in which the parties to the contract agree to different obligations depending on a future event. A common example is a non-discretionary performance bonus for an employee or manager. A simple provision awarding a non-discretionary bonus might look something like:

If Company Sells X number of units or more of Product Y in 2014, Employee will receive an additional $100,000 in compensation, payable on March 1st, 2015.

In this example, the Company agrees to provide the Employee…

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Seattle Zoning Map


This "Understanding Contract Terms" series post explains choice of law and venue clauses, and why these clauses are important for almost every contract.

We continue the Understanding Contract Terms series by explaining choice of law and venue clauses, also called “forum selection” clauses.  You see choice of law and venue terms in many contracts because they can be important terms worth significant money. You will often see choice of law clauses and choice of venue clauses grouped together in a single paragraph. Here is an example of a typical choice of law and venue clause:

Section ____ Governing Law; Jurisdiction. To the maximum extent permitted by applicable law, the provisions of this Agreement shall be governed by and construed and enforced in accordance with the laws of the State of ___________, without regard to principles of conflicts of law. Each of the parties hereto…

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Choice of Venue


This post discusses how to collect the money your business is owed and avoid legal disputes relating to collection.

One of the first conflicts that often comes with any new business, and one conflict that is ongoing for nearly every business, is how to collect what the business is owed. A proper collections process will help you get paid more often and more quickly, and it creates a solid record to give you more leverage when you do find your business in a dispute. If you properly design your collections process, it will help ensure you get paid.

To prevent accounts receivable problems, you’ll need to understand where the problems come from. Here are general descriptions of the most common collections issues: 

You aren’t sufficiently clear in your agreement, so your customers dispute the amount owed or the date the…

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Ducks in a Row


A principled negotiator is open to the view that bigger and better opportunities and solutions are available that allow us to achieve mutual benefits.

A principled negotiator is open to the view that there are bigger or better opportunities and solutions, and collaborative negotiations allow an opportunity to explore mutual interests. The principled approach was first made famous in Roger Fisher and William Ury’s conflict resolution book, Getting to Yes. Fisher and Ury described the four fundamental rules for principled negotiations:

1. Separate people from the issues.
For this approach to work, you’ll have to learn to separate your emotions from the negotiation. Your emotions will inevitably become tangled up with the substantive issues of the task at hand. Once emotions come into play it’s hard to think rationally; we often act differently or say things we wouldn’t have said otherwise. Coming to an agreement will be that much…

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