Searching for the Early Resolution Unicorn

Over the past year, I have traveled far and wide speaking on the The Disruptive Lawyer’s Little Black Book of Litigation Management. I have also attended several CE’s and symposiums on litigation management. Claims managers and company risk managers continue to complain about the same thing: “We have put processes in place, but early resolution and real savings remain elusive. It’s like searching for a unicorn.”

My friends, process is – at most – 50% of the equation. As the Disruptive Lawyer book advises, the key to successful litigation management is process and people – people who are great negotiators!

There is no question the industry is clinging to process and not focusing on hiring great negotiators. Indeed, a recent CLM survey of insurance and risk management professionals found that a whopping 43% believe process is more important than negotiating skill. Frankly, for the other 57% who agree negotiating is a unique skill, they clearly don’t emphasize it in their evaluation of counsel. Specifically, another survey question inquired as to the top reasons these entities have terminated a lawyer from panel counsel. The overwhelming reasons for termination were related to responsiveness and communication. Incredibly, termination of counsel for “bad negotiating skills” occurred a mere 1.6% of the time! “Bad negotiating skills” should be in the top one or two reasons to terminate counsel. Indeed, when around 97% of all cases settle, is there a more important skill set than negotiation?

Clearly, the industry believes in great negotiators as much as they believe in unicorns. Recognizing this, we started sharing Disruptive Lawyer Stories (there is now a separate book compiling these stories) about great negotiating results. The goal was to educate and show the nonbelievers that while perhaps one or two extraordinary results could be “lucky,” after they read 20 stories resulting in multi-million dollar savings in indemnity and legal fees, maybe they would conclude that great negotiators DO make a significant difference. In sum, GREAT NEGOTIATORS ARE THE UNICORN!


Here is another example showing that great negotiators can make a significant difference.

In Georgia, where there have been crazy verdicts,Cruser Mitchell has been a go-to firm for “time limited demands for policy limits” (e.g. Holt bad faith demands) in catastrophic cases where the evaluation was to Pay the entire limits per the terms of the demand.”