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Mock Arbitrations - What are your thoughts?

What are your thoughts on mock arbitrations? Are they widely used and helpful? At what stage in the process should they occur? How extensive should a mock arbitration be?

Please provide your thoughts/comments below.

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Comments (8)

It seems to me that employing a mock arbitration would be especially useful when the stakes are high. But then, it would be important to match the backgrounds of the mock arbitrators to those assigned to the evidentiary hearing as closely as possible.

For example, if it is a technical case, then I believe that having a mock arbitrator who is expert in that particular field is important. Such a person might be better equipped to evaluate the evidence on the basis of equity rather than whether it met legal principles.

I have participated in a two-arbitrator mock arbitration panel in a high-stakes case, where the goal was to sharpen the claimant's presentation and articulate possible reactions of the arbitrator. Counsel told us afterwards that they found the exercise extremely valuable, and later that they obtained an award in the upper range of their more optimistic hopes.
I do not think mock arbitrations are necessarily valuable to predict the award, because there are too many variables. Sharpening a presentation and alerting counsel to weaknesses in her or hois case are probably the most useful roles for mock arbitrations to fill.

I have participated in 3 high stakes mock arbitrations in the past. Although the presentations of evidence and argument were abbreviated, the attorneys all said in post interviews there were valuable lessons learned from the exercise.

I agree with the previous comments. They are not affordable except in high stakes cases. And they are more valuable as hearing preparation exercises than as award predictors. It can be extremely valuable to lawyers to know whether key witnesses impress or don't impress, and to know what arguments are persuasive and what arguments are less persuasive. The expense can be reduced by conducting an abbreviated presentation.

lawrence w crispo:

I have served as a "Mock Arbitrator" in at least 4 mock arbitrations. They were a very useful tool for counsel in evaluating and modifying their "trial" presentations and evaluating their liability and damages issues.
Larry Crispo

The cost can be controlled by limiting the presentation to those most critical aspects of a trial. In particular, I have found that opening statements before a mock panel are helpful in complex cases. First, it gives the panel context from which to judge everything else you present. More importantly, it helps the advocate maximize the effectiveness of that important opportunity.

On a significant arbitration, I would not miss the opportunity to makea mock presentation.

Edwin H. Stern:

I strongly believe in mock arguments before trial court motions and appellate arguments. I have never conducted or participated in a mock arbitration, but as with mocks before court proceedings, I suppose they can help someone become more relaxed and comfortable and be more prepared to answer a tough and unexpected question that might not have been considered. Moreover, you can learn what a third party may feel to be your strengths and weaknesses, and what should be emphasized.

I am not sure you can handle evidentiary presentations without doing the entire arbitration, and agree with the concern about time and cost, but in any event, it seems to me that a benefit of any mock is hearing what an adversary may spring and becoming prepared to answer. Therefore, the mock should include presentation by a mock adversary, thereby increasing the time and cost.

I see valuable potential in a mock arbitration, subject of course to the reality that it can be very expensive unless limits are placed on time for witnesses, and time for oral argument by counsel. If the case is complex, the financial stakes are very high, the party considering a mock arbitration possesses great wealth, and that party is at significant risk of losing a significant amount of its wealth a mock arbitration is likely to help the party's cause.

But, each litigant needs to weigh carefully all the factors, including putting limits on the various elements in the mock arbitration.

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