[Update: In 2014 Lainey was again awarded a California Lawyer of the Year Award (CLAY Award). Read the post about the 2014 recognition.]
In 2000, California Lawyer Magazine recognized the value of the Structured Negotiations process by naming Lainey and co-counsel Linda Dardarian in the group of twenty one California Lawyers of the Year. This article about their work posted here ran in the magazine’s December, 2000 issue.
This is the fifth year that CALIFORNIA LAWYER has recognized lawyers who made a difference, and each year the task of whittling down the list of nominees becomes more difficult. From the beginning we were overwhelmed with names of qualified nominees, with the list growing seemingly exponentially as the deadline approached. The lawyers honored here are a diverse group. They represented the wrongly accused, sometimes against all odds; helped shape industries; and significantly affected public policy or the legal profession. From blowing the whistle on corruption in the state Department of Insurance to cleaning up the air, the accomplishments of these lawyers are impressive.
Without spending a single day in court, sole practitioner Lainey Feingold got several banks to set up banking procedures that help the blind. This year Feingold and her co-counsel, Linda Dardarian of Oakland’s Saperstein, Goldstein, Demchak & Baller, which represents the California Council of the Blind, worked out two separate deals with Bank of America and Wells Fargo. The banks promised to install one talking ATM at each of their California locations by June 2003. The banks will also send Braille bank statements to blind patrons, and Bank of America will make its website fully accessible to the blind. Another financial giant, Citibank, has also agreed to provide talking ATMs, but its deadline for compliance is still being negotiated. The agreement with Bank of America is the first and only national agreement of its kind.
Feingold says she prefers structured negotiation to litigation when it comes to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance. “It gives you more opportunity to problem solve,” she says. And the nonadversarial approach helps preserve the good working relationship necessary to turn company promises into reality. When it comes to high-tech compliance, however, negotiation has another benefit. “By the time two sides have signed a settlement agreement, the technology solution they’re using to become ADA compliant may have changed,” says Feingold. “Negotiation lets you develop language and relationships that are flexible.”