How Lawyers Help Resolve Legal Disputes

alternative-dispute-resolution-adr-918x516A negotiated settlement can be turned into a binding contract that is enforceable. Parties can engage each other using different types of negotiation, including distributive and integrative. Distributive, positional or hard-bargaining negotiation employs the zero-sum principle, which favors one party at the expense of the other. As a result, parties often adopt extreme positions fully aware that they are unacceptable. This type of negotiation usually involves parties that have not previously worked together.

With integrative negotiation, counter-parties employ tactics aimed at increasing the likelihood of a negotiated agreement. Also known as interest-based, principled or merit-based negotiation, it attempts to create value by ensuring the outcome divides spoils equally between the parties.

The approach is generally characterized by high levels of trust and the nurturing of a professional relationship. It is common for both sides to employ creative problem-solving techniques to attain a win-win outcome. They trade one favor for another (logrolling) at the expense of their arbitrary starting positions.

In some cases, one party may concede to the negotiation based on social motivations. However, quick concessions may mean that one of the sides opted not to explore all integrative solutions. Perspective-taking is known to allow parties to reach a mutually beneficial outcome.

Negotiation is defined by a number of key characteristics that include:

Non-adjudicative — the outcome of the negotiations typically does not entail recourse to a third-party neutral. Flexible — the parties can agree on the scope of the negotiations. They can adopt either an interest-based or positional-based bargaining approach. Confidential — the parties can keep the deliberations confidential or make them public.

Voluntary — participation is purely voluntary and the parties can reject or agree on the outcome. They also have the right to withdraw from the negotiation. In addition, they can be represented by a third party. Bilateral or multilateral — the number of participants can be limited to a few parties or more.


Arbitration provides a practical solution for resolving different types of disputes. The approach is typically used in the context of commercial disagreements. Many employment and consumer matters are resolved through arbitration. Participation can be voluntary or involuntary and the decisions taken by an impartial adjudicator can be binding or not.

Mandatory arbitration is established by a statute or contract that the counterparties signed voluntarily. On the other hand, non-binding arbitration shares similarities with mediation in that there is no imposition of decisions.

On another level, arbitration is regulated differently in various countries around the world. Some nations like England have a separate that covers arbitration. In many cases, provisions surrounding arbitration may be outlined multiple procedural laws.

Benefits of arbitration

– Faster when compared to litigation
– Unlike court verdicts, arbitration is generally easier to implement internationally due to the provisions of the New York Convention (1958)
– Parties select their own tribunal as opposed court cases that have a pre-selected judge
– Proceedings are confidential

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Do Jurors Believe Expert Witnesses?

Expert witnesses can be brought into a case for a wide variety of reasons including educating the members of the jury on a particularly American-Juriescomplex subject or offering their opinion on how a piece of evidence should be taken into account, just to name a few. It is the decision of the judge who presides over the procedure to determine if the expert witness is allowed, and can also describe conditions under which the expert’s testimony will be heard. Certain questions, for example, may not be asked if the Judge feels it may unduly influence the jury. Attorneys will argue over what can be admissible as well. These experts are often considered well educated and experienced in their field, and their long career history.

What Juries Want

Typically, what juries want, based on post-trial interviews, is an expert witness who will teach them what they need to know in order to make an informed decision. If a doctor, for instance, can explain a particular illness to the satisfaction of jurors, it helps them understand why someone got sick in the first place, and how it is relevant to the decision they must make.

What jurors also indicated was important is the medical expert’s proximity to the person’s illness to which they are testifying. A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer will ultimately choose an expert witness who can testify about the actual person rather than theories and conclusions found in journals and books. If juries don’t find the expert’s opinion relates to the case at hand, in other words, they may discount it as “they were never even there” to see the ill person, so “how could they know?”

It seems jurors can also detect the expert’s knowledge of the particular case, rather than inferring the evidence is related to their vast knowledge. They know when the expert hasn’t read the details. In essence, jurors tend to place more belief in those who may have little experience testifying as an expert and more experience in the trenches doing all the work. Professional expert witness, therefore, may seem less believable because their job is testifying, as opposed to real life experiences.

What Juries Need

coutroom576A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer will carefully weigh out how all evidence will be presented to a jury, and have special requirements when it comes to experts. Juries also cannot be expected to consider the information they do not understand. They do require education of some very complicated information at times, and the attorney will choose carefully. For example, if the trial involves high-tech computer information, we can assume jurors will have varied knowledge on the subject. It will take an expert to explain, for example, how coding works to make software user-friendly, and they’ll need someone to educated them on the subject.

Interestingly, the expert will need to balance “teaching” with presenting juries their opinion or appearing as though they are influencing their decision. A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer will carefully map out questioning so the expert doesn’t appear to be anything more than a teacher, simply there to help the jury decide. Expert witnesses who appear to be influencing the jurors can easily be discounted, and jurors have often pronounced they decided to discount the expert altogether. Some have remarked they felt their decision had nothing to lose by completely disregarding the facts presented.

What Lawyers Must Do

Because jurors can have a much different view of experts than attorneys, judges, and those in the courtroom, criminal defense attorneys will balance the pros and cons of the expert testimony with the needs and wants of the jury. Because it can be such an important part of the proceedings, preparing and expert witness is vital. Keeping in mind that juries have the upper hand in the courtroom, their opinion and how they may perceive a witness is crucial.

In one of the most famous cases of the century, jurors completely discounted DNA evidence in the OJ Simpson case because they felt it was irrelevant, boring, and ultimately tampered with due to what they saw as more compelling evidence presented elsewhere in the proceedings. This is certainly an easy example of a very complicated trial, but jurors ultimately tell the truth of what they found to be the most compelling evidence in any case, and Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys pay scrupulous attention to what jurors believe to the best example of truth.