Karen Conti has been an aggressive, committed, and well-known litigator in Chicago for more than 33 years. Karen founded her own practice (ContiLaw) five years ago. With family law as her primary legal area; she has represented all types of people:  sports celebrities, politicians, artists, stay at home mothers, police, teachers… She has a full rounded practice which gives breadth and depth to this discussion on negotiation. Karen also host’s her own podcast: ‘The Karen Conti Show’ (https://wgnradio.com/tag/karen-conti/) and has hosted weekly legal radio shows for over 25 years

Karen is a dynamic and influential attorney in the local and national legal community. She has intensive and diverse trial experience from the Circuit Court of Cook County to the U.S. Supreme Court. At the same time, Karen has exceptional negotiation skills which allow her to quickly and creatively settle matters with the least possible expenditure of time and money. She is formally trained and certified as a mediator and in collaborative law. Karen’s handling of numerous high-profile cases has created her reputation for fierce advocacy among judges and other lawyers.

Karen proves herself to be an extremely lively, dynamic and fascinating speaker in this episode of Consult the Negotiator Podcast.

Go to http://www.kcontilaw.com for contact information.

Key takeaways:

  • Preparation is key.
  • 95% of family lawsuits settle, hence the necessity of having well developed negotiation skills.
  • The best way to settle isn’t to create arguments.
  • People cannot make rational decisions when in ‘fight or flight’ mode.
  • Structure negotiations and make a plan: create a hierarchy of important issues (children first and foremost).
  • Don’t create a financial settlement range (for example between $100 and $200): your opponent knows you’ll take $100 so the upper number is pointless!
  • Abuses can use mediation to their advantage.
  • Help clients in divorce cases to look to the future in a positive way!
  • Be yourself!


How did you learn your negotiating skills and who are your biggest influences?

Marc himself helped her realise negotiation skills are something you can learn.

There is not enough attention paid to negotiation in education.


Dealing with divorce law and the emotions involved?

When both parties are ready you can start negotiating. Try to foreshadow what their new life is going to be like… Help them to look forward and not backwards.


How to prepare for negotiations after you have met your client?


How to determine the value of a case?

Alimony is codified – there is a formula which makes it easier. Parties can deviate from the statute if both parties agree.




Avoiding pettiness and emotion?

A funny anecdote of estates with 10 million dollars negotiating about a grandfather clock.


How to deal with disagreeable opponents?


Mistakes lawyers make?


The uniqueness of family law?

The relationship between the husband and wife outside of the legal context is one key factor.


Personality disorders and divorce.


Which cases do you decide to mediate?


Preparing clients for mediation in emotionally tense cases.


How do you as the lawyer survive when surrounded by toxicity?


How do you deal with the 24/7 nature of the job?

Work 7 days a week but take planned time off.


How to get past impasse?


Advice to new lawyers coming into the field?

The importance of learning to negotiate… Hone your negotiation skills like any other skills.


How to lessen the bitterness that can occur in divorce cases?

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