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Planned Early Dispute Resolution (PEDR)

Planned Early Dispute Resolution Project

The American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution appointed the Planned Early Dispute Resolution (PEDR) Task Force to promote planned early dispute resolution by lawyers and clients and to take advantage of the services of neutral dispute resolution professionals at the earliest appropriate time.

In an all-too-common pattern in “litigation as usual,” settlement comes only after the lawyers engage in adversarial posturing, the litigation process escalates the original conflict, the parties’ relationship deteriorates, the process takes a long time and a lot of money, and none of the parties is particularly happy with the settlement. Although some lawyers enjoy this process and make a good living from it, many lawyers would prefer to use a more productive and efficient process, but they feel stuck in playing the adversarial “game.”

The Task Force developed a user guide, which you can download below, to help parties and lawyers develop and use a PEDR process tailored to the needs of each party. This guide is co-Sponsored by the American Arbitration Association (AAA), International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR), and the Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Service (JAMS).

The Task Force also developed powerpoint presentations that you can use to give presentations about PEDR. This webpage provides suggestions for giving such presentations.

This webpage also includes a short podcast summarizing the general principles of PEDR.

The Planned Early Dispute Resolution (PEDR) Task Force developed two generic powerpoint presentations as templates for people to discuss PEDR with legal audiences, business groups, potential clients, and others about this efficient method of handling litigation and potential disputes. 

Guide to Early Dispute Resolution

The Planned Early Dispute Resolution Task Force prepared this guide to promote planned early dispute resolution by lawyers and clients and to take advantage of the services of neutral dispute resolution professionals at the earliest appropriate time.

There are two similar but slightly different versions of the powerpoints. 

Click on these links to download the powerpoints.

Benefiting from Planned Early Dispute Resolution (For Lawyers)

Benefiting from Planned Early Dispute Resolution (For Business People)

If you lead a discussion about PEDR and related topics (such as early case assessment or “ECA”), you can tailor these powerpoints to fit the interests of your audience. 

Here are some suggestions for making the discussion as productive as possible.

With Businesses: Frame The Discussion Around Relevant Trends and the Benefits of Using PEDR.   

For many businesses, there is a powerful incentive to use PEDR due to an increased volume of claims or litigation, the protracted nature of these matters, and increased legal fees and liabilities. Court decisions supporting ADR legitimize a strategic approach to litigation. Many businesses already use or are familiar with Six Sigma and other measurement-related process improvements. These approaches create new definitions of “value” and “win” in the legal environment – where disputes are treated as a business process and protracted litigation is considered as a defect to be remedied. From this perspective, PEDR is a “value add” for the business community.

You can highlight the benefits of PEDR for businesses including their ability to:

  • evaluate the suitability of cases for ADR or litigation at the earliest appropriate time

  • use lawyers as dispute resolution specialists and problem-solvers
  • reduce internal and external legal expenses and liability
  • avoid unnecessary discovery
  • improve internal and external relationships
  • improve the decision-making process in similar future disputes
  • avoid negative publicity for the business  

With Lawyers: Frame the Discussion Around How PEDR Can Benefit Their Business Clients.  

The use of PEDR helps lawyers to:

  • develop a thorough understanding of clients’ business objectives
  • provide a rapid response based on case economics
  • clarify expectations with in-house lawyers and business professionals about expected work product and case outcomes
  • work collaboratively with business clients to use alternative fee arrangements for legal work that benefit both the lawyers and clients
  • help clients in measuring PEDR and ECA outcomes
  • offer clients creative strategies (including decision-tree analysis, settlement counsel, and various ADR processes)
  • work with in-house lawyers and business professionals, as appropriate, on corrective actions based on “lessons learned” analysis

Lawyers who provide clients with this business-oriented approach in a difficult economy can set themselves apart from traditional litigators.

Use a Panel Presentation With Success Stories From Lawyers or Business People Who Have Used PEDR or ECA.  

Audience members usually like to hear from others who have successfully tried innovations. If success stories include data points (such as cycle time for matters pre- and post-use of PEDR, savings per matter, client satisfaction, etc.), potential users get a better understanding of how PEDR might help them.

Frame the Discussion as Part of an Ongoing Conversation about Proactive Approaches to Dispute Prevention and Resolution. 

These discussions generally work best as conversations between professionals rather than lectures by experts. Engage the audience in a discussion of what is – and is not --working well for them about how they currently handle disputes. What would they like to see changed? How can PEDR help them get there? Be prepared to discuss common challenges in institutionalizing PEDR. Use these discussions to brainstorm about ways that they can improve their work.

Refer the Audience to the PEDR User Guide. 

This valuable resource is on the websites of the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution, American Arbitration Association (AAA), International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR), and the Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Service (JAMS). It provides detailed guidance about implementing a PEDR system and includes a bibliography.

Be Prepared to Engage Skeptics Constructively. 

Some people may identify reasons why they think that PEDR, ECA, and other strategic approaches to dispute resolution don’t work. Acknowledge their experiences and use your negotiation skills to engage in a healthy conversation. It can help to provide your own experiences. Acknowledge that there is an important place for “full steam ahead” litigation and that lawyers contribute significantly to a healthy economy.  Note that PEDR simply provides additional tools for effective lawyers and savvy businesses.

Be Candid About What May Not Work Well. 

People appreciate candor, which can spur productive discussions about when the process is or is not appropriate.

Solicit Feedback and/or Ask Participants to Complete an Evaluation Form at the End of the Session To Help Improve Your Next Presentation.