More than any other process for resolving legal disputes, litigants in a recent survey liked the idea of attorneys negotiating in their presence. Mediation was their second preference.
Here's how survey respondents collectively ranked the options using a scale of 1 to 8 [average rating follows in brackets].
Attorneys negotiate, with clients present [5.98]
Judge trial [5.72]
Judge decides, no trial [5.34]
Attorneys negotiate, with clients absent [5.25]
Jury trial [5.18]
Nonbinding arbitration [4.65]
Binding arbitration [4.36]
UC Davis law professor Donna Shestowsky - who says understanding litigants' preferences could help courts run more smoothly, reduce appeals, and save money - surveyed 413 parties to new lawsuits in California, Oregon, and Utah that were eligible for multiple forms of disposition. Seventy percent of participants were litigating as individuals, and more than half were fighting over either a contract or a personal injury; 55 percent were men; and 79 percent were non-Hispanic white. The survey was conducted between May 2010 and May 2011.