San Diego Biz Law APC

We Are The Law Firm That Gets The Job Done. Period.

The Difference Between A Negotiator, Mediator And Arbitrator

The roles of San Diego negotiator, mediators and arbitrators are often confused. The root word of mediation is “medi,” which means “to make in half…meet in the middle.” Yes, we can mediate for you if you need that service, but very few firms can negotiate for you. In our definition, negotiation can only have one outcome. If someone kidnaps your spouse or key employee, there is only one outcome. If your career is to be destroyed by someone and you hire a negotiator, there is only one outcome. If you are being extorted, again, there is only one outcome. You don’t want to “meet in the middle.” There are no options here. Every negotiation has one “nonnegotiable.”

That’s where we come in. Not only have we dealt with extortion of a high-level political figure, the kidnapping of a federal agent’s son and the possible career destruction of an actor in Los Angeles with a globally recognized studio, but we’ve also won every case. More importantly, money never changed hands. Anyone can exchange money with a criminal, but if there is only one outcome, you need a trained negotiator. We have negotiated $100 million cases and even a $1 million divorce that was being held up because of the custody of the dogs – and it was a terrible fight, as they had no children.

On an easier note, we also offer our negotiator services in many business cases, such as:

  • The purchase and sale of a business
  • Partnership dissolution
  • Hiring of a critical employee
  • Separation of a partner or critical employee
  • Creation of a partnership and who gets what, when and how
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Percentage of corporate ownership and duties of individuals in a new company
  • And, of course, an area in which we have spent a lot of time – marital dissolution disputes (especially when it comes to custody issues)

You may think that this isn’t business law. Well, most of the marital disputes we negotiated came from our business clients. If your personal life is difficult, it’s going to affect every other area of your life. Worse yet, some of the most difficult negotiations we ever have to do are regarding marital issues. Emotions, past memories and many other factors play into making this one of the most challenges areas out there. In fact, our lead attorney, Steven Riznyk, authored and produced a 5.5-hour DVD on making relationships work based on his conflict resolution model of negotiations (see

Negotiation can take place in person (preferred) or by phone (sometimes we don’t have a choice, as in the kidnapping case). In negotiation, we will consider many things other than simply the person’s clothes and their value and condition. We’ll also look at details like the watch, the condition of the shoes. In addition, we will consider their demeanor and sophisticated body language movements. We will consider the speed of their speech, the rhythm, the split-second pauses, the directions of the eyeballs when a question is asked.

Read a few testimonials from satisfied clients.


Here are the differences between these two often-confused services we offer:


In negotiation, we are not here to analyze facts; we analyze thinking patterns of your opponent. We try to understand your opponent fully so that we can build a profile of this person. We will then use what we know in order to – for lack of a better phrase – “speak this person’s language.” Everybody, based on their life experiences, develops an inner language. Certain things are important to them, others are critical and still others have no value, even though they may have immeasurable value to someone else. In addition to understanding the person (which, if contact is limited or not available, we can create from stories you can relate to us about their behavior patterns) and their behavior, we will want to know as much as possible about them. People are betrayed by their own actions. What does it tell you if a person is well-dressed but their shoes are poorly maintained? How about a messy car? What does a man’s suit tell you about him? What does a woman’s confidence level tell you about her? How can you determine her confidence level?

Benefits: Negotiation is fast. Although more expensive than mediation or arbitration, it usually never lasts more than a week (that is our goal). It is effective. Most of the time, after negotiations are completed, the two parties often do not consider each other enemies, a contrast to litigation. Negotiation gets to the heart of the matter. Because negotiation is about people and not just facts, it is much easier to see issues clearly and clear up any secondary problems that are not normally visible in litigation or arbitration/mediation. In other words, it offers a “complete clean-up and resolution” because, when everyone understands each other in a way only possible with high-level negotiation, there is a meeting of the minds that is rarely possible with any other method. When you get in that situation, it actually creates a situation of voluntary cooperation and clears the air, for lack of a better term.


Our goal here is to analyze the facts. The cases can be casual, or we can follow California Rules of Civil Procedure if you have an enforceability contract or both parties agree to abide by discovery requirements. We analyze the law that applies to the issues once we have been able to filter them out. We gather all the information we can from both parties and expert witnesses, if required.

Benefits: With the recent budget cuts, the judiciary in California is severely overworked. A court case can last a very long time with all the backlogs. All the information that is heard in court is public record, so everyone can discover a lot of your personal information by just going to the courthouse and getting a copy of your file. If you are high-profile, your information and case may end up in newspapers and magazines, which could destroy years of marketing and branding.

Mediation and arbitration are fast and inexpensive. We don’t waste time. Our goal is to get the case over with as soon as possible. The best way to enter this realm is to agree to it with your opponent. If you wait until a court orders it, you will already have spent a lot of time and money that could have gone toward the resolution of your case. Moreover, the damage that litigation does to your soul and, therefore, your life and business, is severe, and what it does to your confidence and outlook is sometimes irreversible. We do not believe in litigation as the first line of attack. Sometimes, you have an opponent who listens to nothing else, then you have to do what you have to do (read Sun Tzu or “Thick Face Black Heart”). But, when possible, argue peacefully (i.e., with mediation or arbitration) because we have witnessed cases where two opponents later worked together and other cases where one opponent bought the company of the other, and the two opponents worked together as friends.


Sure, we may come across as a very personable legal team, and we like to think we are. However, when it comes to negotiation, nothing states that it has to be hostile; you can smile and still win. Make no mistake: We get the job done. However, the flip side of it is that we don’t handle every case we get. Despite all the psychological and neurobiological tools and knowledge base we have, some people are stuck in the “I’m always right” zone and are virtually impossible to communicate with. We don’t want to take your money without providing the results you are hiring us to achieve. We will be able to ascertain a lot more when we have had a chance to talk to you about your opponent and what has taken place.

For a complimentary consultation with attorney Riznyk of San Diego Biz Law APC regarding your issues, feel free to call 877-223-4684 or send an email whenever you like; we often work late at our firm so that you can sleep soundly!