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One of my law partners recommended Silverman’s Client’s Guide to Mediation and Arbitration to me to send to a client to help the client understand alternative dispute resolution. I read it and can say enthusiastically that it’s a great book for clients and for lawyers.
For clients, it does a number of things. First, at the contract stage, it helps them think through an integrated, strategic approach toward resolving disputes that’s consistent with their business interests and values. It’s written to help business owners make the same informed type of decisions about dispute resolution as they would make about other business decisions. Once a client reads the book, you can sit down with the client and have a meaningful discussion about whether the client should be considering mandatory negotiation, mediation, or arbitration in its contracts. You can discuss variables like cost, time, risk, power, confidentiality, and relationships, all depending on whether the business is considering agreements with employees, customers, suppliers, or otherwise. Clients appreciate the effort because you’re giving them the tools to make intelligent decisions rather than simply saying "Trust me, I’m your lawyer and I know best."
The second thing the book does for clients is guide them through the actual process of a dispute negotiation, mediation, or arbitration. The client understands the strategy, psychology, and timing of each procedure, and can participate as an equal partner with you in formulating the best approach to getting the result the client wants.
And third, the book has an interesting chapter on deal mediation, which is a new approach to using a mediator. Basically, in deal negotiations businesses use a mediator to help them resolve terms and to make the deal better. The book has a number of innovative insights into how this process can work in a variety of situations. Very little has been written about the process, and the book offers a practical guide as to how businesses can harness the process for better deal making.
In addition to how the book helps clients, it helps lawyers too. For deal lawyers, it helps them understand the strategy and options in drafting dispute resolution clauses. In many deals, dispute resolution clauses are added in hurriedly at the end of a deal. Silverman explains how and why dispute resolution options should be considered as carefully as other deal terms.
And the book helps litigators too. Silverman writes insightfully into all aspects of dispute negotiation, mediation, and arbitration, and concisely offers insights into key elements that litigators should focus on for each process.
Finally, the book is written with the reader in mind. It’s in plain English and broken into clear headings and chapters. There’s no fluff. I’ve sent it to a number of my clients and I recommend it highly.