Settlement Facilitation Tips No. 1

Minimize the amount of direct contact the parties have with one another.

Consider this story. Granted, this isn’t exactly what was said, at high volume and rapid speed, this morning in the hallway outside the courtroom. I can’t remember the exact details as I handled eight other eviction cases functionally exactly like this one this morning. But the exchange below conveys the sense of one case I settled this morning in the hallway outside the courtroom.

I said, “Hello, Ms. Defendant. I wonder if we might discuss some kind of agreement to work out the dispute, that’s usually better for everyone involved.”

Quoth the defendant: “I’m not paying your lying-ass fishing fisher of a fishing client one red goddamned penny over $2,000. And I’m not moving out for two weeks until my new place is ready!” Her neck muscles were bulging like suspension bridge cables in rage.

So then I walked down to the other end of the hall, where my client was sitting. “I spoke to her.” My client interrupted me.

Quoth the plaintiff, literally spitting in anger: “You tell that fishing thief down there that if she doesn’t pay me all 2,000 fishing dollars she owes me, and if she doesn’t give me my fishing house back in two goddamned weeks that I won’t stop suing her fishing ass until Arma-fishing-geddon! And she can take that to the motherfishing bank!” He pokes me in my chest with his index finger, then remembers who he’s talking to. “I’m sorry, Burt, I’m just upset. So what did she say?”

“You know what? I think I can get her up to what you just said. Hang tight right here, and let me negotiate with her some more.”

Thus, I position my clients in the courthouse hallway as far away from where the other parties can be found as possible. In this case, if these two had been within earshot of one another, I’d no doubt have had to have tried the case despite the fact that they both came out of the starting gate agreeing with one another on the amount of both money and time, the only things that matter in an eviction.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.


  1. Wow, this whole ‘Fish’ meme is really taking off, good to hear.

    • With three-quarters of a glass of Tempranillo in me, I can be sanguine and reply that I knew the job was dangerous when I took it. My blood pressure was somewhat higher earlier today, however.

  2. I have to wonder how many ‘negotiating sessions’ you had to do to make it look good to the client before putting the pen to paper.

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