Conflict

Book Review: STRUCTURED NEGOTIATION, A Winning Alternative to Lawsuits, Lainey Feingold, 2016

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Early in her legal career, Lainey Feingold was fired from a law firm. The day before she was scheduled to become a partner, the head of the firm told her she would never become a partner at the firm, stating “You lack grace and equanimity.” Feingold went from hearing those words turn her desired destiny upside down to letting them lead her to towards a career of practicing law with those and many other collaborative practices, detailed in Chapter 16. Her work has formed the basis of a methodology she and her practice colleagues coined “Structured Negotiation.”

In her book, Feingold introduces us to this alternative dispute resolution methodology, defined by one big firm lawyer as mediation without a mediator. The book is neatly organized into Seven Stages, from Stage One: Preparing a Structured Negotiation Case to Stage Seven: Post-Settlement Strategies, over 16 Chapters. It includes Templates and Sample documents, and details of several Stuctured Negotiations that Feingold and her practice colleagues ( primarily Linda Dardarian) handled over the past 20 years.

While many of the examples focus on Feingold’s advocacy for members of the blind community seeking access to ATMs, talking prescription labels, and baseball, the book has broad application to any practitioner who recognizes that certain types of claims, even very large ones, can provide opportunities for many disputants to be better served by the use of this process. While some claims need a Court system and the formal legal process, many do not. As Feingold puts it:

“But filing a complaint should not be the only option for claims resolution. The legal profession – and the public it serves- deserves alternatives that are less costly, less stressful, and more cooperative. Clients need a forum where thier stories matter and they can be ( and feel) heard.”

Whether you believe this or not, you should be aware of this alternative. Many think that those who represent big institutions are reluctant to participate in this out of court process. Yes, this is true. But Feingold has paved the way. She and her colleagues have spent years , patiently, working with many of the largest of these — Bank of America, Walgreens, Target, Safeway, TransUnion, Charles Schwab, others, and even Major League Baseball. And in her work, she provides information on all of these Structured Negotiations, so that you can use her success to contribute to yours.

If you take away nothing from this book, you will no doubt benefit from Chapter 16 which is invaluable. The legal profession is now undergoing a mindset change, where there is a real focus on “soft skills.” These are interpersonal skills, stress management, self confidence, mindfulness, optimism, the ability to convey empathy, and others.

Law students, lawyers young and old, law professors — read the book, but do not put it on the shelf until you have spent some time reading and self – reflecting on the collaborative tools that are discussed in Chapter 16.

You will be better at everything you do, if you can incorporate some of the Structured Negotiation collaborative practices into your life and your life’s work.

Buy the book on iBooks

Researching Reform For The Huffington Post: Child Refugees Are Fleeing A War We Created – We Owe Them A Place To Live — Researching Reform

Our article this month for The Huffington Post looks at some of the issues child refugees face as the first few children arrive in England this week. We discuss the topic of dental checks, the real reason why many of the children in the camp at Calais are young men and why we owe these […]

via Researching Reform For The Huffington Post: Child Refugees Are Fleeing A War We Created – We Owe Them A Place To Live — Researching Reform

Book Review Common Sense: Making Good Decisions in Real Estate Workouts Paperback – August 20, 2016

A useful book  for Bank workout officers, negotiators and mediators  dealing with real estate borrower/lender relationships

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I met Mark Weiss a few years back through a shared interest in Storytelling. With Mark you are never quite sure that you know everything that he does. I knew he had written a book or two  (this is his 8th I think), but I did not know about this book. I learned about it when Mark handed me a copy recently and said that he thought I might enjoy reading it. He was right. It is a quick read. The intended audience for the book is really for bank “workout” officers who will be charged with the responsibility of managing negotiations for properties that come into a bank’s portfolio as a result of a foreclosure or other circumstance. Mark has a wealth of experience in these kinds of situations. What makes this book interesting and worth a read is the wealth of knowledge contained in the book, but also the weaving in of his personal stories ( remember, he is an excellent storyteller as well) recounting tales where deals go bad, are rescued ( sometimes) and the lessons learned from both. So, while the book is truly a “handbook” or “desk-reference” for workout officers, it reads a bit like a documentary, and sometimes even as an action story! Another potential audience is anyone who, like me, mediates commercial disputes. Mark’s understanding of the workout process, is a roadmap for negotiators as well as mediators who are concerned with discovering BATNA/WATNA and the real needs and interests of both sides to these workouts.  I recommend this helpful,  quick and easy read.

Available at Amazon

A Trick That Will Make Your Next Apology Better

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It involves the 1990s Saturday Night Live character Stuart Smalley. Kind of.

“Research has shown that one way to keep that idealized self-image intact is through self-affirmation, a concept that actually isn’t too far off from Smalley’s “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and, doggone it, people like me!” mantra. A less ridiculous way to go about this is to think about your goals, your values, and the things and people most important to you, Schumann said. So she reasoned that before apologizing, taking a few minutes to indulge in a little self-affirmation could make the experience less painful, which would ultimately lead to a less defensive, more effective apology.

The basic idea is that we are highly motivated to maintain a positive image of ourselves — an image of self-integrity, morality, and adequacy,” Schumann said in an email. And this, she reasons, is why apologizing can suck so very much: Having to admit that our words or actions hurt someone else threatens our image of our ideal self. So it makes sense that so many apologies are so bad. We get defensive, so we justify our behavior, all to protect our egos.”

Read NYMag article by Melissa Dahl