Alternative dispute resolution is a paradigm shift in the legal culture.

Felix Ginthum

Conflict management

Law traditionally safeguards interests and serves for the fair settlement of conflicts. Law and conflict are difficult to predict. Therefore, legal disputes aiming at a winner/loser decision are often regarded as unfair by the parties involved. In many cases, legal proceedings are not time and cost-efficient, either.

Since companies are increasingly economically interwoven with each other, it absolutely has to be avoided that partial conflicts will endanger the sustainably valuable business relationship as a whole. In order to take into account the new requirements of modern conflict management, we offer alternative methods for the settlement of disputes (abbreviated ADR) to companies and entrepreneurs. These methods, above all, comprise mediation, dispute settlement by conciliation, arbitration opinions, coaching etc.

The term “mediation” comes from the word mediate = negotiate, debate, and means “intermediation/mediation” (which originates from the word mediare = to be in the middle of something). The core of mediation is an impartial and independent third person, i.e. the mediator, who uses a clearly structured process to moderate confidentially the negotiations between the conflicting sides.

In conventional court proceedings, a third person, i.e. the judge or the arbitrator, has the task of bringing about a binding decision on the conflict of the parties. The mediator, however, moderates and structures the communication process between the conflicting sides so that the power of decision lies within the sole responsibility of the conflicting parties.

As an alternative to court proceedings, the conciliation procedure has become established. The conciliator as impartial third person mediates between the conflicting sides in the conciliation procedure. If required, the conciliator submits a proposal. Although a conciliation award is not binding, it is often helpful for the parties to come to a quick and mutually agreed solution.

The possibility of obtaining an arbitration opinion is usually integrated in other dispute settlement procedures, e.g. a mediation procedure. As a matter of principle, the decision of an arbitrator is binding, unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties. Arbitration opinions are often used for making a decision on specific factual issues, e.g. on defects, disputes regarding damages etc. It is especially advisable to obtain an arbitration opinion whenever the decision on a controversial factual issue promotes the amicable solution of the entire conflict.

Usually people make an association between the professional activity of an attorney at law and going to the court. This has changed. Our practical experience shows that it may be appropriate to support our clients as coach in the background during intensive and complex commercial disputes. Our advisory service and support is especially important to clients who want to prevent further conflicts in the case of disputes. In such cases, we do not act officially as attorneys at law in order to avoid any unnecessary conflict escalation. Our holistic approach to our advisory service – to act systematically to make sure not to lose sight of the legal, economic and social aspects as well as of the personal circumstances of the client –  means a comprehensive advisory service which is geared towards the unique requirements of the particular client. Thus, your success can be implemented despite the pitfalls of the details and with respect to the whole.

During legal proceedings, the attorneys at law and you, i.e. the client, are in the spotlight of publicity. This fact fundamentally changes the basic conditions of conflict management. Litigation PR is the specific area of public relations (PR) which harmonizes the attorney’s strategy and the communication strategy. This strategic legal communication originates from the USA and has been developed on the basis of the knowledge that conventional PR techniques do not always provide the desired result in the course of a legal dispute. Justice may be blind in theory. But experience shows that a person who is caught in the cross fire of public criticism and who still cuts a good figure increases his or her chances for a lenient sentence. In this regard, we cooperate with the communication specialists of NAïMA Strategic Legal Services GmbH.