Settlement Perspectives

Thoughts on how to resolve disputes and get your deal done.


5 PerspectivesAugust 16, 2009

CPR Publishes Early Case Assessment Guidelines

You can’t settle your case before you know what it’s worth — or at least you shouldn’t — so we discussed why it’s best to value your dispute before settlement discussions start a few months ago.  This fact has driven an entire series on Early Case Assessments here on Settlement Perspectives, and it’s clear I’m not the only in-house ECA fan out there.

The International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution, known also as the CPR Institute, has recently published CPR’s Early Case Assessment “ECA” Guidelines (2009), which are designed to “set forth a process designed to help businesses decide early on how to manage disputes, including identifying key business concerns, assessing risks and costs, and making an informed choice or recommendation on how to handle the dispute.”  They certainly meet their objectives.

CPR’s Early Case Assessment Guidelines

The guidelines themselves are divided into five sections, each of which deserves a read:

  1. CPR’s Definition of ECA;
  2. Benefits of Utilizing Early Case Assessment;
  3. CPR Rationale for Developing the ECA Guidelines;
  4. Setting the Stage for Successful Early Case Assessment; and
  5. Utilizing the CPR ECA Guidelines.

Additional ECA Materials from CPR

Importantly, CPR’s Guidelines are backed by truly helpful resources in .pdf format, including:

Recent Press on CPR’s Early Case Assessment Efforts

CPR Institute President and CEO Kathy Bryan has followed up on these guidelines and CPR’s other efforts to make sure ECA stays at the top of the in-house agenda with a recent Metropolitan Corporate Counsel article.  Bryan provides us with a quote not unlike one you might have seen here on Settlement Perspectives before:

We think that the sooner early case assessment can be done – and it can be done 30 to 60 days after a complaint is filed – the greater the likelihood of an early resolution at minimum cost.

We couldn’t agree more.

Stop by the CPR website at when you can. You’ll be glad you did.

Categories: ECA,Tactics

5 Perspectives:

Philip J. Loree Jr.Saturday, August 29, 2009 3:25 pm



I’m surprised that your excellent post has not generated more comments.

FIrst, let me thank you for spreading the word about the CPR Early Case Assessment guidelines. This kind of information is critically important not only to in-house counsel, but to outside counsel.

Second, using the links you provided I took the time to review the ECAs and I cannot say enough good things about them. They are a fantastic case management tool for in-house counsel, and should be made part of every outside counsel’s case management plan.

I’d say your post is one of the most useful and informative ones I have had the pleasure of reading in some time.

Keep up the great work!


John DeGrooteSunday, August 30, 2009 1:51 pm


Thank you for your comment and your kind words; as you have likely gathered, I really believe in Early Case Assessments as a case management tool as well as a prerequisite to settlement discussions in most disputes, and I was happy to see these additional resources from the CPR Institute.

Thanks again for your thoughts, Phil–

John DeGroote

Philip J. Loree Jr.Sunday, August 30, 2009 7:47 pm

My pleasure, and thanks again!


Nathan — Wednesday, September 2, 2009 5:46 am

Wow, this is some good stuff. I manage a team of people charged with investigating and resolving complaints in finance industry. This approach is exactly the sort of thing we need. Our key drivers are to avoid complaints being sent to an External Dispute Resolution scheme – and absolutely fundamental to this is the early identification and analysis of the issues and risks regarding the complaint. This framework is very effective for such an analysis.
Thanks for this

James Wright — Tuesday, October 27, 2009 8:08 am

I’m pleased to [finally] see so much attention paid to ECA. There are now tools available to examine ESI while it is still in the Enterprise [i.e before spending the $$ to collect it], and these should be employed before parties even begin to discuss E-Discovery. This is the absolute earliest and perhaps best opportunity for cost management.

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