My Approach to Dispute Resolution

Picture of Attorney Kenneth MarksFor more than thirty-three years I practiced commercial litigation at Susman Godfrey in Houston. There is no better training ground for helping clients - plaintiffs and defendants - resolve complex legal disputes of all types. And there is no better place to learn that most cases are not resolved until the tough questions are asked and each side gives its answers. That is how I approach alternative dispute resolution through mediation, arbitration and assistance with settlement evaluation: get to the tough questions and the parties' answers to those questions. What follows is the often difficult task of assessing which answers are more likely correct.

I also know through my law practice that preparation is the key to effective dispute resolution. The mediator or arbitrator who prepares in advance saves parties and counsel time and money, reduces the frustration of a morning or even days spent educating the neutral, and allows more time to focus on the tough questions and answers. For mediation, preparation in advance also means counsel often does not need to prepare written mediation statements for my benefit.

Since leaving Susman Godfrey in 2016, I mediated cases at the request of counsel and judges, and I served as a mock arbitrator. The cases I mediated cover a wide range of substantive areas, including an antitrust class action, pipeline abandonment liability, liability under healthcare provider contracts, tort and contract claims alleging improper sharing of confidential business information, operator liability under Joint Operating and Term Assignment agreements, and tort and contract claims between owners of closely held businesses.

My approach to dispute resolution is:

  • I prepare extensively for alternative dispute resolution. I read what the lawyers send me -- relevant pleadings, motions and responses, rulings in the case, and key documents and cases - in advance. I often ask for further materials. I also confer with counsel and, if they choose, parties in advance.
  • I do the work. I do not rely on assistants or clerks to review materials and prepare summaries for me.
  • I stay with the case. If it is not resolved in the initial mediation session, I continue to work with counsel and parties and do not charge additional fees unless another in-person session is held.
  • I schedule a limited number of matters to leave ample time to prepare for each case and, where needed, for follow up. For mediations, I schedule one case, at most two cases, per week.