If you are a litigator, I'm sure that at some point you have been (or you will be) involved in back-and-forth settlement negotiations, such as during a mediation. Whether you are on the plaintiff or the defendant side, the issue is the same — how much do I need to move to get the other party to move, is there any hope that we will reach a common ground, and what will that number be.
Don Philbin, an attorney and mediator in San Antonio, Texas, created a free iPhone app to help you with these negotiations. The app is called Picture it Settled Lite, and it allows you to track every offer made by each side in a negotiation along with the date and time of the offer.
Over time that app gives you a handy chart of each of the offers.
Better yet, once you have a few offers and counter-offers in the app, you get to take advantage of one of the key features of the app, a graph that shows you offers over time along with a prediction of what offers will be in the future using an algorithm based on prior offers. The app also predicts the dollar amount that you will eventually agree upon and the time that this will take place.
Just seeing offers on a graph like this can be helpful enough in planning your next move, but the app also helps you to plan that move by making it easy to make a new offer that matches the dollar amount or percentage change of your last offer, or the dollar amount or percentage change of your opponent's last offer.
Note that while this is a "lite" app, there is currently no "full" version of this app. Philbin tells me that his company is working on a browser-based, advanced product, due to be released next year, that will use sophisticated modeling, case diagramming and evaluation tools based not just on the amount and time of prior offers in a specific case but also based on the experiences in thousands of cases in a variety of disciplines and jurisdictions. He already has a patent application on file on the algorithms he is using. Indeed, you should keep in mind that when you use this app, some of the information that you enter is uploaded to add to this database. Your case name is not uploaded (just a non-identifying number), but the offer history is shared. Also, the app gives you the option of entering your jurisdiction (state and county), the type of case (such as products liability) and some basic information on the type of plaintiff and defendant. If you choose to enter that information, it is also uploaded. Just sharing that information is unlikely to breach any confidentiality, but fortunately you don't have to enter any of that information to use this app.
Obviously there is no guarantee that past behavior will strictly determine future behavior, so an app like this can only go so far in accurately predicting how settlement negotiations will turn out. Having said that, this could definitely be a useful tool during your negotiations. And in my experience in mediations, I often spend a lot of time in a room waiting for the mediator to work with the other side, and during that down time you are often looking for something to do to plan your next move. Why not use an app like this as yet another tool at your disposal that might assist you in your strategic thinking.
This article won the LitigationWorld Pick of the Week. LitigationWorld is a free weekly email newsletter that that provides helpful tips regarding electronic discovery, litigation strategy, and litigation technology.