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Bennett Picker
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For over 20 years, Ben Picker has served as a mediator in several hundred domestic and international disputes, mostly complex commercial disputes involving substantial dollars and/or important strategic interests.

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Judith Meyer
Feedback digest by Judith Meyer, 20 Jul 2018 The following feedback was collected by the Reviewer in 2015. The review is based upon 12 feedbacks from responders in large, complex business disputes. Some of the feedback comes from users who have worked with Mr. Picker in prior matters and use him as their first choice in disputes which have failed all attempts at settlement by parties and counsel. Mr. Picker is well-known and highly-regarded for his successes in enabling parties to reach resolution in very difficult and highly emotional cases. In an acrimonious partnership breakup the parties observed he was “very diligent in preparing for the mediation”. At the mediation session he shows immense patience, empathy and wisdom. Often parties express their surprise and delight that matters, which may be scheduled for months of trial, resolve at mediation in creative ways Mr. Picker is able to encourage parties to consider. Mr. Picker takes time and care to develop a relationship with the parties at a mediation. He listens to clients and earns their trust. A user commented: “He established credibility with our client almost immediately.” He works with multiple defendants to triage liability and percentages of contribution without alienating any party. He possesses “an uncanny knack” for figuring out where in the process it is time to “knuckle down” and make hard decisions. He does not rush the process, but makes it “crystal clear” when it is time to focus on options. Mr. Picker’s preparation for mediation is “impeccable.” He “rolls up his sleeves” and masters arcane substantive legal issues such as rarely interpreted United States Internal Revenue Service provisions and ERISA. He has handled complexed UCC issues where a product has been used in the railroad industry. He is familiar with environmental remediation. He remains unflaggingly dedicated to the process of negotiation, being facilitative, and evaluative when necessary. Mr. Picker prepares meticulously for each mediation. He is known for his candor in assessing a case, and, importantly, should a case fail to settle after a day in mediation, he follows up with the parties and counsel in post-mediation discussions that often lead to settlement. Mr. Picker is used frequently in employment disputes and in disputes between major U.S. health care providers. One client includes Mr. Picker on his “short list” of very effective mediators and finds his commitment to each case “very impressive. His style is not aggressive, but persuasive.” An attorney who has mediated for 25 years with prominent national full-time mediators observed of Mr. Picker: “There are many other mediators whom I like and respect, but none more than Mr. Picker. His finest points are: Advising and coaching me as an advocate in how best to prepare for opening statements in the mediation in a way gives Mr. Picker ammunition to get the case resolved; His introductory remarks to all which I believe improved the tone and got acrimonious parties and counsel into a better frame of thinking; His careful review of the submissions and record so that he could help the parties reconsider their true risks and recognize the possibility that their evaluation had advocacy-bias built-in – both parties deeply respected his more objective perspective; A dogged and optimistic approach that help prevent parties from shutting down when progress was very slow and emotions running very high; His guidance in the negotiating and bid-asking process, including use of techniques to break impasses; His respectful but helpful dialogue with the decision-maker/client on my side that helped him to consider all his interests and risks and make decisions that resulted in resolution; When it seemed like the negotiations had ended and the day would end without resolution, a very skillful use of the double-blind technique that stretched the decision-makers to their limits and secured an unlikely resolution that somehow could be accepted by both parties; and Guiding the parties’ counsel to a written terms sheet (rather than full-blown settlement agreement) and resolving minor differences to ensure that the bargain was not lost. Mr. Picker has the ability from the outset to make all parties feel comfortable in the mediation process. He lets the parties and counsel know they are important, encourages them to voice their views of the facts and articulate their goals. While a joint opening session is encouraged, Mr. Picker also knows when to avoid one. Throughout, he asks the parties to confront and respond to the tough issues in the case. He listens, carefully, as he tries to craft areas of agreement or disagreement on the facts before he delves into ways to resolve the parties’ dispute. Mr. Picker rarely gives up (though, in the rare case, even he recognizes the parties’ inability to reach common ground). Mr. Picker makes clear that he is not the judge and jury, rather a resource to resolve the dispute. He listens to the presentations, pushes each side to realistically look at the case, assesses the strength of the counsel, and gives wise advice. One user commented: “I represented a small company that was a defendant in a products liability case brought by a Fortune 500 company. The dispute was complex and required an appreciation of the UCC and the railroad industry where the product was employed. Prior to the mediation the parties were far apart in their respective settlement positions and attitudes. The objective of the larger company was to put the smaller company out of business. My client was severely limited in the amount of funds it could devote to a settlement. Despite the many difficulties, Mr. Picker proved to be a skilled and productive mediator. He learned the important aspects of the case before the parties assembled for the mediation. In the day-long mediation he deftly learned and applied the strengths and weaknesses of each position so that the parties became motivated to settle the case. There were numerous aspects of the method Mr. Picker used to conduct the mediation that revealed his sensitivity to the art of negotiation. Mr. Picker is a true professional who is guided by a high standard of ethics and a keen intellect.” Mr. Picker conducts pre-mediation telephone calls with the parties and sends out a comprehensive premeditation set of questions which must be answered before the day of mediation. At the meditation, Mr. Picker does not simply shuttle back and forth between the parties’ conference rooms exchanging numbers. He tests each party. He understands leverage and the monetary value of a case and, importantly, the non-monetary factors which could move the parties.

This feedback digest was last updated 31 August 2015.
by Judith Meyer, 15 Jun 2024
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