Mediation is more art than science. It involves a unique blend of the legal realities, financial needs and limitations, practical considerations for both plaintiff and defendant, and a healthy respect for the genuine concerns of individuals and businesses many of whom are in the only lawsuit they will ever experience.
Over the past 15 years, John Crist has mediated in excess of 200 cases for other attorneys. The subject matters of those cases include employment disputes, personal injury, wrongful death, insurance bad faith, real estate transactions, minority shareholder and partnership disputes, oil and gas, and just about every type of commercial dispute imaginable.
Having tried numerous cases in state and federal courts throughout Montana, Crist brings a very practical perspective to the settlement of disputes. Samuel Johnson said, “when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully”. So it is with mediation and an impending trial.
At the end of the day, every case is worth what a jury will award at trial. Cases can and do settle at 5:00 p.m. for amounts both sides would consider outlandish at 9:00 a.m. This probably shouldn’t be so, but it just is. From experience, Crist is patient and persistent in his efforts to settle cases. He has observed mediations that he thought were dead, dead, dead at 2:00 p.m. result in agreements by the end of the day.
Simply put, mediation done well is a reality check. The mediator must help the parties to let go of what they “know” happened, and recognize the stark reality of how the case will be presented to a jury, and the range of realistic outcomes. That doesn’t mean every case will settle, but it certainly improves the odds.