Tools & Pricing

First Court™ is the fastest and fairest way to resolve your legal dispute. We guarantee your satisfaction: Open Door Clients pay us nothing to close a file until they sign a release with the other side which meets their own expectations for a fair and efficient settlement.

Our Seven Rapport-Building Tools

“Simpler the better” -- we work with both sides to determine which

of these tools will actually help you in each particular case:

Self-Introduction Video

  • Use your webcam to record a one or two minute video describingyour education, family, interests and hobbies. This intro will serve as a personal calling card, the first thing we will share to start building professional rapport among the decision makers in each case. (One video every five years - Free)



  • First Court hosts a short video conference call which gives you a relaxed and enjoyable introduction to the person(s) on the other side with whom you will make the critical decisions in your case. (Public: $125/party. Open Doors: Free)


  • First Court helps each decision maker create a 30 second video message to the other side… just so they don’t forget who you are, what you look like, and how sonorous you sound. ($25/party)


  • How closely are you connected to the other side? Following the work of Frigyes Karinthy and John Guare, First Court researchers explore the degrees of separation in the backgrounds of the decision makers. We share the findings with both sides. Its easier to settle cases… with your distant cousin! Includes sharing existing social media. Fun. (Public: $75/party. Open Doors: Free)


  • First Court arranges a time when both sides use Settlement Testing and an audio call to negotiate a settlement with each other . . . in a fake case. This joint exercise increases the comfort level with one another, and accustoms your brains to resolving disputes with the other person. Quick. Safe. Useful. (Public: $150. Open Doors: Free)


  • When money is on the line, some of us just can’t stop blustering. First Court counters this very human tendency by arranging a video call in which the negotiators take turns verbalizing the strengths in the other side’s case. ($450/hour)


  • Once your case is concluded First Court arranges a conference call in which both negotiator’s talk candidly about their impressions of the negotiations, offer tips, and discuss their messaging. Honest and constructive feedback from the other side is the single best way to sharpen our professional skills. May include feedback from First Court. (Public: $125/party. Open Doors: Free)

Our Twelve Settlement Tools

“Simpler the better” — we work with both sides to determine which of these tools are actually needed to close each particular case:

Case Closing Plan

  • We listen to the needs of both sides and draft a plan to close the case as fairly and efficiently as possible.  You get the information you need to make your evaluation. You get a schedule. You get monitoring and encouragement to think creatively. You get an effective but flexible agreement for resolving the case. ($450/hour) 

Bird Dogging

  • To make sure your case doesn’t slip through the cracks, First Court checks in with both sides for ten minutes every month to check on progress and to explore routes to closure. ($450/hour)

Your Number Is...

  • First Court asks both sides to send us their estimate of the other side’s best, most conciliatory settlement number. We then share those estimates with each party. A super quick and useful way of making sure you are not fighting over nothing. (Public: $30/party. Open Doors: Free)


Traditional mediation is an obscenely inefficient tool for resolving money damage disputes. No surprise there – it was designed to settle child custody disputes!

One-Hour Mediations are specifically designed to resolve disputes over money.  This process builds on our 32 years of experience in resolving tort and contract disputes. It involves one and sometimes two steps:

    Step 1:  Settlement Testing    
    Step 2 (if necessary):  Impasse Breaking 

Step 1:  Settlement Testing     Each One-Hour Mediation begins with a sorting process (“Settlement Testing”) which makes it safe for both sides to be honest about their Best Number.  No speeches. No posturing.  We safely cut to the chase to learn how close or far apart the parties REALLY are.
•    While Testing, the negotiators do not get to see the other side’s numbers.  It is very safe.
•    It is also fast—most cases can be thoroughly Tested in 18 minutes. It can be done in person, or online (i.e. without traveling from your office.)  
•    Most importantly, in its initial stages Settlement Testing has resolved over 70% of our cases. 
Teach yourself how Settlement Testing works with this free demo:

Step 2:  Impasse Breaking    When Testing uncovers a genuine impasse, we use the remaining time in your One Hour Mediation as follows:  
•    Each side provides confidential answers to four diagnostic questions. (10 minutes) 

•    We analyze the answers and propose an Impasse Breaker tailored to resolve your unique dynamics as quickly and fairly as possible. (20 minutes)   

•    If both parties see the logic of the proposed Impasse Breaker we use it to close the file. (time varies)

•    If either side objects to the proposed Impasse Breaker, both parties walk away from the One-Hour Mediation knowing they made an honest effort to settle. You learn this without wasting an entire day.

Thread the Needle

  • First Court looks at the "best number" from each side and recomnends an up or down final number for closing the file. Also known as a "Mediator's Number."  Useful as an Impasse Breaker following a Settlement Testing session.  ($100/party) 


  • First Court shares a one-page summary of the case with a handful of people you resepect for having good judgment. We record their telephonic reactions to help everyone see the case more objectively.  ($1,400/party)

Neutral Expert

  • First Court hires a neutral expert to give feedback on technical issues. Excellent impasse breaker in cases that boil down to a "Battle of the Experts."  ($2,500 + actual costs incurred.)

Mediation, Video, or Traditional

  • Parties get together for opening statements and shuttling back and forth with various numbers.  Useful for cases with significant emotional overlays. ($695/hour + actual costs)

Appeals Panel

  • First Court hires three well-respected appellate lawyers from the trial venue to shed light on legal issues. ($2,500 + actual costs incurred.)


  • An online self-paced trial to groups of ten jurors, usually from the trial venue. You get objective and detailed feedback on very specific issues separating the parties. Excellent choice for smaller cases when both sides believe they will win with a local jury.  (Public: $4,500 setup fee + $2,000 for each panel of ten jurors. Open Doors: Credits Apply)

Live Deliberations

  • A two hour online trial to 18 jurors, usually from the trial venue. Followed by a two hour deliberation using three pro-plaintiff jurors and three pro-defense jurors. Excellent choice for medium sized cases when both sides believe they will win with a local jury. Can be coupled with a high/low agreement.  (Public: $12,000 - $15,000. Open Doors: Credits Apply)

Settlement Trial

  • A full-day mock trial to 18 jurors, usually from the trial venue. The trial ends with three groups of six jurors deliberating to a verdict in separate rooms. Excellent choice for large cases when both sides believe they will win with a local jury. Can be coupled with a high/low agreement.  (Public: $59,000 + travel and conference room costs. Open Doors: Credits Apply)

Deeply Appreciated: Loyalty to First Court

We have been working on high-stakes legal disputes across the United States since 1989. We rely on clients who are truly satisfied, and who are willing to tell others about us. We show our gratitude to such clients thusly:

Client Action

First Court Credit

An idea which we determine significantly improves First Court or helps our clients

Up to $10,000

Private trial with 10-person seminar


Live Deliberation with 10-person seminar


Colleague referral -> an Open Door client!


JuryReactions with 10-person seminar