Florida Mediator Larry Watson Inventor of Mediated Case Management

Florida mediator Lawrence M. Watson Lawrence M. Watson is known as the father of Mediated Case Management.

A simple Google search reveals the man behind the concept of “Mediated Case Management.” Most of the search results mention Lawrence M. Watson Jr., a fellow founder and principal of Upchurch Watson White & Max Mediation Group. The top-ranking Web page on the subject is a paper he wrote, titled “The Case for Mediated Case Management” and published by the American College of Civil Trial Mediators in its American Journal of Mediation.

Florida Mediator John Upchurch John Upchurch

Mediated Case Management is an innovative program for getting participants in complex, multiparty, multi-issue lawsuits quickly focused on the core disputes making up the overall conflict. Among other things, the MCM procedure identifies and diverts “process debates” – arguments over procedural issues peripheral to the central problem – thus giving parties the opportunity to address determinative matters early in the case. In short, the parties work with the mediator to “mediate the conduct of the lawsuit” in order to give settlement a chance to happen early rather than late.  

Although Larry originally conceived Mediated Case Management to help facilitate settlements of major construction litigation cases, the process is now used effectively in all sorts of large, complex, multiparty cases. As he says, “It brings in the mediator right from the get-go before legal costs and expenses become substantial. With counsel and the mediator working together in an early issue refinement exercise, a general agreement is reached as to the core issues making up the center of the case. Through additional facilitated agreements among trial counsel, focused and prioritized litigation activities (discovery, motion practice, etc.) are then cooperatively implemented in order to quickly get to the information necessary to confront, and hopefully settle,  those core issues first. This gives settlement a chance to happen early in the case.”

Larry had a remarkable opportunity to discuss mediated case management in detail at the annual meeting of the Shell Oil Co. Global Litigation Group in September 2013. His status as the father of Mediated Case Management brought him to the attention of Lynda Irvine, Shell’s Associate General Counsel for global litigation in the Americas, who invited him to share his insights at this year’s New Orleans meeting which centered on cost effective and expedient alternatives to litigation.

There, Larry participated in a two-hour presentation on “Novel Forms of ADR” for more than 100 of Shell’s in-house lawyers, who had traveled from offices throughout the United States, South America, Europe and Africa. “We talked about Med-Arb and Arb-Med, Early Neutral Evaluation, Dispute Review Boards and quite a bit on Mediated Case Management. There was a spirited discussion among the Shell Oil attorneys, particularly those from abroad, about the cost benefits of this process and mediation in general. The default dispute resolution process in South America, Africa and many parts of Europe appears to be Arbitration – which can be a significantly expensive experience.”

Larry will be presenting again for the Construction Law Institute Annual Meeting March 20-22, 2014, at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Florida, on “Mediating Insurance Coverage Issues.”  For more  information on the conference, please click here.

Also, by Jan. 28, we will be disseminating information about registering for Larry's Webinar presentation, "The Florida Litigators’ Dispute Resolution Toolbox," which is scheduled for noon Feb. 18. Like all UWWM Webinars, it is free to attend and is good for CLE from The Florida Bar.  Please, keep an eye on our homepage for further developments!

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