New Articles by Jeff

Contract Disputes and COVID-19

"Do you think this is an act of God?"" That was the question I posed to a colleague in my office after getting off the phone with a client on March 12, 2020. The next day, San Mateo County reduced the permissible size of public gatherings to 250 people. On March 9th, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had lost more than 2,000 points and the S&P 500 fell by 7.6%. By March 16th, the markets had their three worst point drops in history. My question was not mere hyperbole - if COVID-19 were considered such an act, or a similarly significant event, how was it and the events that followed going to affect my client's contract? Was my client still obligated to perform? This is a knotty question that our Court and hundreds of others will be wrestling with for a long while. ...Read the article

Creating Chemistry in Online Mediation

For a mediator, establishing a connection at the outset of a mediation with the parties is essential. When we first meet someone, we are immediately evaluating a person's warmth and competence, asking ourselves, "Can I trust and respect this person?" This can be even more challenging when a mediator is meeting parties for the first time by video conference. With the new necessity and rise of online dispute resolution (ODR), a mediator should be ever more mindful of the neurochemistry at work in establishing trust with the parties. Some might argue that ODR is a much more "mental game" than a traditional mediation because the participants do not have the opportunity to read body language or "size each other up." Fortunately, mediators can "virtually" create the same chemistry as they might at an in-person mediation. '...Read the article

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