Caldwell & Kearns, P.C.
877-490-6665 717-743-1682

Protecting clients in the most complex legal disputes

Prior to ADR: know your BATNA/WATNA.

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) can be used for all sorts of different scenarios. Whether you’re butting heads with your former spouse over child custody issues or clashing with your business partner over an element of a contract, it’s a good idea to dedicate some time to prepare ahead of time. The pay off can be well worth the effort.

Regardless of whether you’re getting ready for arbitration or mediation, you want to approach the process smartly. Prepare for it as you would for any negotiation: by thinking through all potential outcomes and which outcomes would be acceptable to you. In ADR terms, this is what we refer to as your BATNA/WATNA.


You should come to the meeting knowing exactly what you want—under ideal circumstances. Short of that, you should also have a clear idea of what your best alternative is going to be. What’s another direction you could take to resolve this more successfully? This secondary option is your best alternative to the negotiated agreement (BATNA).

In advance of the meeting, you also want to think through what your worst alternative to the negotiated agreement (WATNA) is. If the worst alternative is litigation and getting caught up on a long, acrimonious legal battle that’s going to cost you $50,000, then it’s worth knowing that too.

Do the math, and know your risk. Having a balanced understanding of what you could stand to gain and what you could stand to lose can put you in a better position to negotiate for your best interests—all things considered.

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Caldwell & Kearns, P.C.
3631 North Front Street
Harrisburg, PA 17110-1533

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