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Bar Association of San Francisco Member Benefits: Publications

Early Settlement Program: A Powerful Tool


By Connie Dunning, Director of ADR Services


Why use the Early Settlement Program? The answer is simple: the quality and experience of The Bar Association of San Francisco’s (BASF) panelists and the proven track record of the program just can’t be beat.

The Early Settlement Program (ESP) was established in 1986 as a result of a joint effort of BASF and the San Francisco Superior Court to assist with a backlog of cases. Since then it has thrived and grown into the prestigious program it is today. With over 250 of the Bay Area’s most talented trial lawyers serving, the panel boasts a 78 percent settlement rate.

Furthermore, the cost for a two- to three-hour session with one of these distinguished panelists is a modest administrative fee of $250 per party. Also, the conference is not limited to the ESP hours; if progress is being made and everyone is agreeable, parties can hire the panelist and continue to meet as a private settlement conference. However, there is no pressure to continue into private session time. Each conference can be tailored to meet the needs of the specific case.

BASF makes things easy for all parties by:

  • Pre-screening panelists
  • Checking for conflicts
  • Setting the date and notifying parties months in advance
  • Rescheduling if needed
  • Notifying all counsel—eliminating the need to “convince” the other side
  • Providing personable staff, available to assist at any time

To choose ESP, just fill out a simple Stipulation to ADR form and file it with the court, or call 415-982-1600 with any questions. More information, and the Stipulation to ADR form, can be found at

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