Every litigator knows that many more cases settle than go to judgment. At some point in almost every lawsuit, the parties will discuss settlement, either on their own or with a push from the judge. During my 16 years as a United States Magistrate Judge, I conducted more than 100 settlement conferences each year. I witnessed the whole range of lawyer performance. Underprepared lawyers and their clients stumbled into settlement conferences, often resulting in a negotiation that didn’t lead to settlement, or they settled on terms they found disappointing. Effective lawyers, on the other hand, approached settlement negotiations strategically and with thoughtful preparation.
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