The Fall 2008 edition of Litigation, published by the American Bar Association's Litigation Section, contains an interesting article titled "Making Full Use of the Court: Come to Settle First, Litigate Second" by Magistrate Judge Morton Demlow of the Northern District of Illinois.
The article sets forth in great detail the advantages and disadvantages of requesting a settlement conference in the plaintiff's complaint, or in the defendant's answer. I have never heard of anyone doing this before, but this article makes a strong argument that more lawyers should request the court's assistance in trying to settle their cases.
I won't go into too much detail, but I wanted to share the language that Judge Demlow suggests for each parties' respective pleadings.
For the plaintiff: "WHEREFORE, plaintiff (1) hereby requests the Court to conduct a mediated settlement conference or to refer this case to its court-annexed mediation program in order to assist the parties to bring about a settlement of this case; or in the alternative, (2) plaintiff hereby demands judgment against defendant for the sum of _____ dollars."
For the defendant: "WHEREFORE, defendant prays that the Court deny plaintiff's claim and award defendant its costs and expenses incurred in the defense of this action and for such other relief as the Court deems proper. Further answering, in the alternative, defendant hereby requests the Court to conduct a mediated settlement conference or to refer the case to its court-annexed mediation program in order to assist the parties to bring about a settlement of this case."