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settlement advocates

Schian Walker’s settlement advocates focus on both the business and legal aspects of a case, identify settlement opportunities, and advocate for a sound negotiated result that can significantly reduce costs and lead to a successful outcome.

“We do not expect our generals to be diplomats, nor our diplomats to be generals.” – William F. Coyne, Jr., Using Settlement Counsel for Early Dispute Resolution, 15 Negotiation J. 11 (1999).

As the costs of litigation have exponentially increased, it is vital to consider exit strategies at all stages of a dispute. Schian Walker settlement advocates offer a litigating party, and the litigator who represents them, the opportunity to reach a favorable and efficient resolution to the dispute.

how do settlement advocates work?

Schian Walker’s settlement advocates help clients to evaluate costs and risks and to develop and coordinate strategies to bring about a resolution that is in their best interests.

There is little question that litigation counsel must press forward with the daily tasks of litigation and prepare a case for a potential trial or arbitration. Meanwhile, settlement advocates are able to work on a separate track, removed from the core tasks of litigation, and concentrate on negotiations and settlement talks that can lead to early resolution. Settlement advocates are not neutral. Rather, we advocate for our clients and help attain sound business and legal results. In our settlement advocacy role, we work with primary litigation counsel while focusing on resolving a client’s dispute on the best possible terms. The benefit to the litigator: the ability to concentrate on litigating the matter, while Schian Walker’s experienced attorneys focus on reaching a negotiated resolution.

the value of settlement advocate

Despite the fact that more than nine of 10 cases settle, and despite the unpredictable nature of judges and juries, it is not uncommon for litigators to move a matter forward under the assumption that it will end in court. In so doing, they may overlook opportunities to evaluate the most beneficial and desired outcome, which is usually obtainable without the costs of a trial.

A settlement advocate enables clients to identify and coordinate a desirable exit strategy, the benefits of which include:

  • A new perspective removed from the trenches of litigation
  • A balanced case assessment
  • Separation of litigation from settlement
  • Business and legal focused negotiations
  • Cost effective and successful resolutions

As one judge was fond of saying: “The parties should consider a negotiated resolution; otherwise, they are asking the person who knows the least about the case to impose a result.”

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“If your only tool is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.”
What is a settlement advocate?

A settlement advocate is an attorney for the client who considers how the client can achieve its objectives without the time, expense and delay associated with a trial.

What is the difference between a settlement advocate and a mediator?

A mediator is a neutral. Settlement advocates represent the client’s interests, advocate their case, and strive to meet the client’s objectives in a manner that is acceptable to the other parties.

What is the interplay between trial counsel and a settlement advocate?

Trial counsel focuses on winning the case. Settlement advocates listen to all parties and seek an expeditious resolution consistent with client objectives and expectations.

Trial counsel can focus on discovery and trial preparation. Settlement advocates are able to discuss, explore and evaluate the case and objectives outside the context of litigation.

Even in the context of settlement discussions and objective case evaluations, trial counsel tend to be guarded, and opposing counsel and clients are similarly guarded in their discussions. Settlement advocates can be more candid in their assessment of parties’ positions and may be able to discuss the case with trial counsel and litigants in a manner that is difficult in the context of contested litigation.

Both sides believe that trial counsel is obligated to utilize any information they gain to advance the client’s litigation objectives. With client consent, settlement advocates can have discussions and consider matters that they agree not to share with the client or trial counsel.

While clients expect trial counsel to “believe in their case,” settlement advocates can ask the client to consider the possibility of less than a complete victory, or loss, at trial.

Does a settlement advocate increase the client’s cost?

Almost every case eventually involves a discussion of settlement. Most are likely to include a court-ordered or party-initiated settlement conference or mediation. In each scenario, the client needs representation. Whether it is trial counsel or a settlement advocate, there will be an associated cost. A settlement advocate can increase the likelihood of an early resolution acceptable to the client saving significant expense.

When do you involve a settlement advocate?

Ideally, the client, trial counsel and settlement advocate work together from the inception of the conflict; however, it is rarely too late. Schian Walker began as, and largely remains, a boutique bankruptcy firm to resolve complex problems in which at least one party is financially distressed. We have achieved significant successes for clients, even post-verdict and post-judgment.

What is Schian Walker’s experience in working with trial and appellate counsel in resolving cases?

Matters come to Schian Walker in a variety of ways. Perhaps it is the expense of litigation or the strain it places on the client or the business. Other times, it may be as a result of an adverse ruling. In four memorable instances, the initial telephone call went like this: Trial Counsel: “Hello, this is __________. We represent _________. We had a trial last week and the jury came back with a verdict against us. It returned a verdict of [$2 million, $14 million, $400 million, or $5 million]. Our client needs to talk to a bankruptcy lawyer.”

Schian Walker attempted to settle the first $2 million verdict, but to no avail. The client ultimately won on appeal, but at significant cost.

We resolved the $14 million verdict through settlement discussions, but without a bankruptcy, without an appeal, and on terms acceptable to all parties.

We resolved the $400 million verdict but did so in the context of a Chapter 11. Schian Walker resolved the most recent $5 million verdict through mediation, but without the need for a bankruptcy or appeal.

Consider Schian Walker to serve as your settlement advocate.