At ZinnLaw in Fort Myers, FL we pride ourselves in taking a pragmatic approach to law, recognizing ways to resolve a client’s legal situation according to each client’s own needs. This means using every tool necessary to resolve the dispute through mediation, negotiation and if necessary, litigation.
However, negotiation isn’t limited to the legal realm. In fact, people negotiate everyday, everywhere. Students will negotiate with their teachers for better grades. Employees will negotiate for a change in their job, a promotion, or to get a raise. You might find yourself negotiating with your significant other about where to go to dinner, or whose turn it is to clean the kitchen or put the kids to bed. A legal negotiation is different. First, before sitting down to negotiate a dispute causing a lawsuit, you should consult with a qualified attorney like Brian Zinn. This way, even if you choose to negotiate without hiring legal representation, you will at the very least be fully made aware of all your rights and duties beforehand.
Like mediation, negotiation is always voluntary. A opposing party can decide to accept or reject the proposed offer, as long as an official contract has not been signed between parties. You can represent yourself in the negotiation—which, again, not advised—or have someone else negotiate on your behalf such as a friend or family member, or an experienced attorney with expertise in the areas of negotiation or conflict resolution. A party can also withdraw from the negotiation at any time, at which point the next outcome is likely going to be going to court for litigation.
Negotiation can be multilateral, involving more than 2 parties—even as many as a dozen, or hundred or even more. Negotiation happens directly between all involved parties, and lacks the presence of a neutral third party, which is what would be involved in mediation. Negotiation is an informal process, with no specific rules. Confidentiality is not required of any party. Negotiation is also very flexible, which is one of the main advantages of this kind of dispute resolution. The nature of the negotiations can be directed according to the evolving needs of all the parties involved. This increases the chance of reaching an agreed upon resolution for everyone.
Both mediation and negotiation qualify as a means of alternative dispute resolution (or ADR, for short). Arbitration can also classify as a type of ADR. The American Bar Association says arbitration is a private process where disputing parties agree that one or more individuals can make a choice about the dispute after witnessing evidence and hearing all arguments. Arbitration is different from mediation because the third party neutral arbitrator has the power to make a decision about the dispute. When none of these methods work, the only other option is to go to court to litigate.