As a Section member, you should by now have received information about the Section’s 15th Annual Spring Conference in Chicago, which will be held at the Fairmont Hotel from April 3 through April 6. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Section of Dispute Resolution and the 15th anniversary of our increasingly successful spring meeting, and so it is fitting that the conference will feature two nationally recognized “giants” in public service who have made monumental contributions to the field of alternative dispute resolution. On Thursday, Judge Richard A. Posner of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and senior lecturer at the University of Chicago will discuss economic analysis of settlement through alternative dispute resolution resulting from his research on judicial decision-making. He recently co-authored the book The Behavior of Federal Judges: A Theoretical and Empirical Study of Rational Choice.
The following morning, Senator George J. Mitchell will speak and be honored with the 2013 D’Alemberte Raven Award for his outstanding service in dispute resolution. He has served as federal judge, senator from Maine, majority leader of the Senate and chairman of the peace negotiations in Northern Ireland that resulted in the historic “Good Friday Agreement” that ended the conflict. Most recently, he served as U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace.
The conference will begin on Wednesday, April 3, with a Symposium on Dispute Resolution in the Courts, which will be of special interest for those who work in and support court programs. The main conference, which starts on April 4, includes approximately 90 programs in tracks on arbitration, mediation, communications, neuroscience, psychology, negotiation and international work, as well as many other topics.
April 6 will feature the Legal Educators Colloquium and luncheon as well as the International ADR Workshop, which drew more than 80 participants last year, the first time it was offered. At the colloquium luncheon, the Section will honor Professor Leonard Riskin with the Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work.
Thanks in advance to Alyson Carrel, Stu Widman, and Jillisa Brittan, co-chairs of the conference, as well as program chairs Kelly Browe Olson, Juan Ramirez, and Myra Selby. Conference registration forms, the program schedule and sponsorship and exhibit opportunities can all be found at the conference web site: www.ambar.org/spring2013.
Planning has already begun for the 2014 Spring Conference, which will be held in Miami (Florida, for the first time!) April 2 to April 5, 2014. Mark your calendars now.
The Section Council is working on updating its strategic plan and aligning it with the Section’s budget under the guidance of strategic planning co-chairs Bruce Meyerson and Larry Mills. More information about that will come after the Spring Conference.
Section members should also know that the Section’s work on “civil discourse” that was conducted at our 2012 Spring Conference continues this year. Partly as a result of the recent heart-rending mass shootings in Connecticut and elsewhere, Bruce Meyerson is working with the president-elect of the ABA, James R. Silkenat, to develop a National Conversation on Gun Violence. The discussion will be not only about gun control but about all the elements that appear to have contributed to the increase in mass shootings. More news will be brought to you as plans crystallize.
Finally, I remind you that the Section is working on the agenda for the Asia-Pacific Mediation Leadership Summit, which will be in Hong Kong on October 31, November 1 and November 2, 2013. More information will be available by the Spring Conference or before.
We hope that you pack your bags for the Spring Conference in Chicago, the first conference held in the central United States. In the meantime, please enjoy this issue of Dispute Resolution Magazine, which focuses on community mediation. I hope this issue encourages you to become active (or increase your activity) with your local community mediation center. These centers defuse conflict, teach citizens to handle disputes more effectively and serve an essential role in our local communities.
John R. Phillips is chair of the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution and a partner at the law firm of Husch Blackwell LLP in Kansas City, Chicago & St. Louis. He can be reached at email@example.com.