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Verdict Value vs Settlement Value

In the pursuit of justice through litigation, the concepts of verdict value and settlement value represent two distinct paths. Understanding and reconciling these differences is crucial during the mediation process.

Verdict Value: The Win, Win, Win Approach

Verdict value is the potential maximum a plaintiff might receive if the case goes to trial and results in a favorable jury decision. This value is often associated with winning big—punitive damages, pain and suffering, and other compensations that paint a picture of ultimate success. However, this approach is inherently adversarial. The client hires a lawyer, the lawyer investigates the case, and together they prepare for a courtroom battle, hyper-focused on winning and achieving a favorable verdict.

This win-at-all-costs mentality can condition clients and lawyers to view conflict and litigation as the primary path to success. The courtroom becomes the arena where justice is fought for and won. But this mindset also comes with significant risks and uncertainties. Trials are unpredictable, and the outcome depends on numerous variables, including the jury’s perception and the presentation of evidence.

Settlement Value: The Path to Compromise and Peace

In contrast, settlement value represents a more pragmatic approach. It is the amount for which a case can realistically be settled outside of court, often lower than the potential verdict value but offering certainty and speed. Settlement discussions focus on compromise, mitigation, resolution, and finality—a stark departure from the conflict-driven nature of litigation.

Mediation shifts the focus from adversarial to cooperative. Instead of preparing for battle, parties work together to find middle ground. The aim is not to win, but to resolve the dispute in a way that provides a fair outcome for both sides. This process emphasizes the concept of a “bird in the hand”—a guaranteed, tangible settlement rather than the uncertain promise of a large verdict.

Reconciling the Differences in Mediation

During mediation, it is essential to reconcile these differing mindsets. Lawyers and clients must transition from the conflict-oriented approach of litigation to the collaborative nature of mediation. This involves embracing the principles of compromise and understanding that a fair settlement can be more beneficial than the risks associated with pursuing a maximum verdict.

As a mediator, my role is to facilitate this transition. By providing a realistic perspective on both verdict and settlement values, I help parties navigate the complexities of their dispute and find a resolution that minimizes risk and maximizes mutual benefit. Mediation is about finding balance—achieving a resolution that brings peace and finality rather than prolonged conflict.

In conclusion, understanding the stark differences between verdict value and settlement value is crucial in mediation. By focusing on compromise and practical resolution, mediation offers a path to peace and finality that litigation often cannot provide. My goal as a mediator is to help you embrace this process and achieve a fair and mutually beneficial settlement.


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