Article Title

The Represented Client in a Settlement Conference: The Lessons of G. Heileman Brewing Co. v. Joseph Oat Corp.

Publication Title

Washington University Law Quarterly


My aim in this Article is to provide background, along with some modest suggestions, that could assist judges, lawyers, and clients in determining when and how clients should participate in settlement discussions. Part I begins with a history of the case. It then sets out various perspectives that litigants, lawyers and judges commonly bring to settlement conferences, perspectives on lawyer-client relations, negotiation, and the role of the judicial host. Next, it examines the opinions in the Heileman case, along with other materials, in an attempt to uncover the underlying assumptions about the settlement conference that informed the behavior of the judges and lawyers in that case. I argue that Heileman's explanation lies in the lawyers' and judges' tendency to embrace one of two radically different visions of the settlement conference. Part II catalogs the advantages and disadvantages of involving clients in settlement conferences and describes the many different ways in which a client can participate. In addition, Part II includes some general suggestions about when and for what purposes a judicial host should require a litigant or a representative of an organizational litigant to accompany the litigant's lawyer to a settlement conference. It then proposes an explanation for the expression "full authority to settle the case" as it applies to an organization. Finally, Part II reviews the obligations of the client or client representative once he or she appears at the settlement conference. Part III sums up and suggests a special benefit flowing from client participation in settlement conferences.