Getting Out of Line By Mike Rosen

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Originally published in California Lawyer - November 2011.

Los Angeles arbiter and mediator Barbara Reeves Neal was accustomed to seeing her clients withdraw their cases from the court's trial calendar when they decided to settle. But recently two of her cases went "off calendar" when her clients learned their trial dates would be delayed due to court budget cuts. The defendants also indefinitely postponed any talk of settlement, preferring a wait-and-see approach.

"When a defendant isn't faced with a trial date, it becomes easier to just put it in the bottom drawer and avoid dealing with it," says Neal, who works for the private Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services (JAMS). "The threat of trial is a helpful force in encouraging parties to settle."

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