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Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution

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Preventing Bad Settlement Decisions and Impasse using brain science, game theory, animated communication, and micro-interventions

Faculty:  Don Philbin and Douglas Noll 

The fact patterns of this course will be familiar to the experienced mediator and trial advocate in negotiation: difficult people, heightened emotions, overly confident case assessments, deeply held beliefs, barriers to rational deals.

We will explore the neuropsychology behind these defining characteristics and the mediator micro-interventions that can turn them from impasse ingredients to the seeds of a successful deal. We will explore modern brain science—not only as a way to explain what is going on at the table, but in developing tools that mediators can use to meet participants where they are and communicate with them effectively. We'll tie communications theory in as we animate game theory as an interactive way to continually reassess and communicate developing outcome scenarios. 

Most mediators operate on instinct, intuition, and experience. This session will elevate your practice you'll learn enough of the theoretical underpinnings of neuropsychology to gain clarity, understanding, and a driving purpose to kick your game up a notch. And you'll get to immediately practice effective tools that will help you implement that theory in the working laboratory that is this advanced course.

You'll walk out not only with a new appreciation for how the mind processes negotiations, but how participants can intervene in the moment to increase the odds of a successful round—on the Monday after the course.

What you will learn:

  • Basics of neuropsychology and brain science 
  • Dealing with difficult people 
  • You can't separate the people from the problem—we're emotional beings—even in commercial cases 
  • How to deal with deeply held beliefs—matters of principle (not principal)
  • Introduction to game theory
  • A look at decision-tree analysis
  • Communication theory—the "power of pictures" since the Kennedy-Nixon Debate and the video game culture
  • How to deal with issues at a micro level so they do not risk impasse 

Don Philbin is an AV-rated attorney-mediator, negotiation consultant and trainer, and arbitrator. He has resolved disputes and crafted deals for more than two decades as a business litigator, general counsel, and president of technology-related companies. Philbin is an adjunct law professor at the Pepperdine School of Law. He has trained and published at Harvard's program on negotiation, is an elected Fellow of the International Academy of Mediators and the American Academy of Civil Trial Mediators, and is certified by the International Mediation Institute. Philbin is listed in Texas Super Lawyers, The Best Lawyers in America, and U.S. News & World Report's "Best Law Firm" survey.

Douglas E. Noll, AV-rated, is listed in The Best Lawyers in America and is a Northern California Super Lawyer. Noll holds an M.A. in peacemaking and conflict studies from Fresno Pacific University and is an adjunct law professor at San Joaquin College of Law. He is a Distinguished Fellow of International Academy of Mediators and American College of Civil Trial Mediators and is certified by the International Mediation Institute. His books include Elusive Peace: How Modern Diplomatic Strategies Could Better Resolve World Conflicts; Sex, Politics & Religion at the Office: The New Competitive Advantage and Peacemaking: Practicing at the Intersection of Law and Human Conflict.