As an attorney, you have probably seen your fair share of stubborn or anxious clients. Stubborn clients refuse to even discuss settling the case for fear that they will be admitting weakness. Anxious clients can be fearful of telling the other side more than they wish to, because they do not wish to make matters worse for their interests. Convincing these clients to mediate environmental disputes may be difficult. However, with the right approach, you will be able to show your clients the many benefits of mediating environmental disputes, whether in Illinois or elsewhere.
After investing a lot of time and money in trial preparation, a client may be more sure of its ability to win the case than is realistic. Some clients want to tell the court—and the world—why they deserve to win the case. Of course, attorneys understand that not every trial and hearing is like a television show. Depending on the judge, opposing counsel, expert witnesses, and especially the members of the jury (if there is a jury), the case may not turn out as your clients had hoped—and then they are angry with their counsel. Unless they have taken multiple cases to court, clients do not usually appreciate that the audience may put surprising weight on factors they have discounted. Sometimes a witness falters. Sometimes there is a surprise piece of evidence that they did not anticipate until just prior to trial.
Emphasize the control that mediation gives to clients. No other legal process allows clients to negotiate and discuss a settlement agreement that takes the goals of every party into consideration. Remind your clients that a judge may issue a ruling that is unfavorable. With mediation, however, the client should resolve at least one issue in a manner that he or she likes. This point will especially resonate with clients who are determined to win the case.
After such a discussion, your clients should express more willingness to consider settlement options.