What Are Examples of Successful Settlement Negotiations?

    Authored By

    Lawyer Magazine

    What Are Examples of Successful Settlement Negotiations?

    In the intricate dance of legal settlements, success often hinges on the skill and creativity of the negotiator. Drawing upon the expertise of Lawyers and Mediators, we've compiled eight insightful examples, ranging from addressing public safety and rehabilitation to building trust for settlement success, to illuminate the strategies that lead to mutually satisfying resolutions.

    • Address Public Safety and Rehabilitation
    • Mediation with Sympathetic Listening
    • Consider Opposing Party's Fears
    • Negotiate Fair Market Value in Family Law
    • Rebuild Co-Parenting Relationships
    • Innovative Spousal Support Solutions
    • Leverage Local Legal Expertise
    • Build Trust for Settlement Success

    Address Public Safety and Rehabilitation

    Often times, when negotiating a settlement that makes everyone happy, it is about addressing the other side's concerns while giving your client what they want. For me, in criminal law, that often involves the potential ongoing public safety risk and the possibility of reoffending. As a result, my strategy involves having my client take steps from the beginning of the proceeding to the point at which the settlement is reached to rehabilitate, repair the damage done by their conduct or alleged conduct, and contribute positively to society.

    Kyla LeeLawyer, Acumen Law Corporation

    Mediation with Sympathetic Listening

    While I have many examples of settlements where all sides were satisfied, one of my most unusual results was an impasse where all parties were satisfied. A homeowner was in mediation against their property and casualty insurance company due to the company's refusal to pay for construction defects on the roof. We could have explained that construction defects were not covered under the policy and ended it there. Instead, the insurance rep helped me explain who was responsible, and who the homeowner could complain to, what the proper channels were, and most importantly, we both lent a sympathetic ear. Even though we ended in an impasse, everyone left feeling like the mediation was a good use of time, and that everyone was trying to do the right thing.

    Brandon DiamondCircuit Civil Mediator, Diamond Mediations

    Consider Opposing Party's Fears

    A win-win scenario is often difficult to achieve with personal injury lawsuits. Yet, by looking at the case through the eyes of the other party, a successful settlement that both parties view positively is more likely. With some claims, it may be the business's fear of punitive damages being assessed (which may not be covered by insurance), or that a verdict might exceed the insurance limits. By viewing the case from the other parties' perspective, I have settled many cases to everyone's satisfaction.

    Greg Baumgartner
    Greg BaumgartnerPersonal injury lawyer, Baumgartner Law Firm

    Negotiate Fair Market Value in Family Law

    One of the benefits of working as a family-law mediator is that most of the parties with whom I work walk away with a negotiated settlement that satisfies all of the parties involved, even if it may not have been their first choice of settlement. An example of how I successfully negotiated a settlement that satisfied all parties involved would be clients who came back to me after I completed their divorce because they had originally kept the marital residence joint and were now ready to sell or do a buyout of the equity. I worked with the parties to determine a fair market value that they could both agree on and then determine the buyout amount for the former wife to remain in the home. Although they were already divorced, the situation was still highly emotionally charged for both parties, as it was really important to the wife to keep the home and the husband wanted to get his equity out and receive as much as possible. I was able to successfully help them reach a settlement by first determining what interests were most important to each of them and then figuring out what proposals they had and where they had room to compromise. Most of these meetings were done separately with the clients in individual caucuses, allowing me, as the mediator, to go back and forth knowing what they each wanted. We were ultimately able to reach a negotiated settlement that allowed the wife to keep the home, the husband to receive his equity buyout from the home, and both parties to move forward on their own.

    Amanda Singer
    Amanda SingerFounder & Professional Family Mediator, West Coast Family Mediation Center

    Rebuild Co-Parenting Relationships

    Working with families that often must continue a relationship after the mediation, it is vital to rebuild a healthy foundation for them to continue their new co-parenting relationship. Redirecting my clients back to what they each stated as their primary goal of the process helps to keep them focused on what matters most (usually their children) and avoid getting distracted by less important factors (money or material items). If their relationship with each other and their children remains strong, I know everything else will fall into place. So, by focusing on the strength of those relationships, I know I can satisfy all parties, including their children.

    Jennifer Segura, Jd, Cdfa
    Jennifer Segura, Jd, CdfaProfessional Family Mediator

    Innovative Spousal Support Solutions

    As a divorce attorney specializing in working with couples collaboratively through mediation, I often assist misaligned parties in reaching agreements both can live with. For example, a couple wants to continue to co-own their home into the future, but only the husband will live there. Finances are very tight, and he objected to paying spousal support as he is taking on the higher costs of keeping the home, which they both agree is best for their kids. Rather than fighting about whether spousal support is equitable, I suggested that his ongoing payments of the mortgage, which reduce the balance, could be considered support to the wife. Typically, the reduction of the mortgage by the husband would be credited to him at the time of the future sale. Instead, for the timeframe that spousal support would be due to the wife, the husband's reduction of the loan won't be accounted for. Once spousal support is no longer due, only then would the amount he reduces the loan be credited to him.

    I realize this is complicated, but it was really a cool suggestion. See, the husband already factored into his budget the payment of the loan. But he is left with just under $850 per month in free money after all his bills, which would have been entirely paid to the wife as spousal support. With my suggestion, the wife is getting more value than the amount of support by his paying down the loan, while they both keep a few dollars for themselves to live a bit and have a life.

    I would be happy to explain more succinctly if interested.

    Scott Levin


    Scott Levin
    Scott LevinFamily law attorney, San Diego Divorce Mediation & Family Law

    Leverage Local Legal Expertise

    As a local personal injury lawyer in Alabama, I recently negotiated a car accident settlement that satisfied all parties involved. By leveraging my deep understanding of Alabama's legal system and strong ties within the local community, I facilitated open communication and collaboration between both sides. Through strategic negotiation, I ensured my client received fair compensation for their injuries while also addressing the concerns of the opposing party. This approach led to a mutually beneficial outcome, where all parties felt heard and respected. Being a local lawyer allowed me to navigate the intricacies of Alabama law with precision, ultimately securing a win-win resolution for everyone involved.

    Hunter Garnett
    Hunter GarnettPersonal Injury Lawyer, Managing Partner, Garnett Patterson Injury Lawyers

    Build Trust for Settlement Success

    Negotiating a settlement successfully requires either considerable trust between the opposing parties themselves, between their counsel, or between each side and a mediator who can assist in exploring resolution. In each case, deep knowledge of your client's case is key, as is a well-explored understanding of where they want or need to end up. Knowing what your client needs helps to expand the possible options for resolution—there may be ways to satisfy their bottom line that are not apparent until settlement discussions are underway. So too does a good understanding of the other side's position assist in broadening the options for resolution. I have successfully negotiated settlements with mediators, by guiding my client behind the scenes as they deal directly with the other party, and with direct counsel-to-counsel discussions. Recently, I resolved a complex, large, multi-party case by representing all defendants collectively in direct communications with opposing counsel. There were many lawyers on each side, but the discussions were only one-on-one. Discussions were electronic, by phone, and when we were close enough, in person, culminating in a proposed resolution we both recommended and was accepted. The discussions started with each of us ensuring we understood the strengths of the opposite case, including discussions over particular productions and legal arguments. Once there, we tabled offers to materially narrow the gap between the sides. Once there, we spoke to explore whether there was a smaller range we could both agree was the bracket within which the case could resolve. Only then did we meet to fine-tune a proposed resolution within that range. The resolution included other components that assisted each side. Without real trust between counsel, this strategy could never have worked.

    Sarit BatnerPartner, Chair of the Board of Partners, McCarthy Tétrault