Division 1 is the Forum division which focuses on advocacy, litigation, and alternative dispute resolution. In carrying out our mission to enhance the advocacy skills of construction lawyers in trial, arbitrations, and mediations and to develop innovative ADR strategies and procedures, we engage in a number of different activities to keep our members informed of new developments in construction law and of new advocacy techniques. These activities include Construction Practicums at national meetings, a division blog called the Dispute Resolver, substantive lunch presentations and social events at each national meeting, a recent CLE seminar that was free for Division 1 members, and monthly steering committee calls.
One of the major Division 1 initiatives over the past several years has been the development of the Practicum Series. This series started from internal discussions at the Division 1 Planning Retreat in 2015, and it has blossomed from there. Division 1 has teamed with the Young Lawyers’ Division and the Forum Leadership Circle to develop topics, identify speakers, put together relevant documentation to obtain CLE credit, and to provide an interactive, small-group setting for both experienced veterans and new attorneys to learn, network, and participate actively in learning about the subjects of the Practicum. The Practicums take place on the Wednesday afternoon prior to the national meetings and can be attended as standalone seminars – one need not attend the national meeting to attend the Practicums.
In addition to the Practicums, Division 1 also publishes a blog called The Dispute Resolver. The Dispute Resolver began as an electronic newsletter in PDF form and evolved into its current format in the fall of 2013. Since that time, over 250 different posts on a variety of topics – everything from updates from national meetings to case updates to discussions regarding new American Arbitration Association rules – have been posted. Currently, Joseph Imperiale of Pepper Hamilton LLP in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is the lead editor in charge of the blog, and his editorial team includes Brendan Carter of Navigant Consulting, Katharine E. Kohm of Pierce Atwood LLP, and Mark W. Frilot of Baker Donelson. Joe Imperiale sends out a wrap-up of the blog as a PDF to all of our members via email each month so that everyone keeps informed regarding the key issues each month. Writing for the blog is one of the easiest and quickest ways that newly active Division 1 members can get involved.
At each national meeting, Division 1 works to provide top-notch presentations on substantive areas of construction law and advocacy. At the most recent national meeting in Chicago, Division 1 featured a presentation regarding Collaborative Construction Claims organized by Roy E. Wagner of von Briesen & Roper, S.C. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and featuring Roy and 2006 Cornerstone Award winner John W. Hinchey of JAMS ADR in Atlanta discussing how a collaborative approach to claims issues can often help save clients both money and time in handling the claims. At the next Midwinter Meeting, Division 1’s Nancy Holtz of JAMS ADR in Boston will be chairing a panel to discuss a hot topic in construction dispute resolution – adjudications.
Division 1 assembles these lunches in a manner similar to how Forum meeting sessions are put together generally. One person takes the lead in identifying a topic, identifying speakers, and preparing any handouts and slide presentations that accompany the presentation. The smaller group atmosphere in a division meal format allows for more interactivity with the speakers for everyone in the room. As a result, we encourage our speakers to select interactive topics – even controversial ones – for everyone to get as much out of each lunch as possible.
It is not all hard work and hot topics for Division 1, though, when it comes to the national meetings. At each meeting, we set up Division social events. In most cases, the social events for Division 1 are structured to be unstructured – as happy hours with heavy hors d’ouevres to allow people to walk around and meet new people, network, and to talk to old friends. For example, in Nashville, we met at B. B. King’s blues bar in a private room with our own dedicated bartender and buffet. This also means that people can drop in for a while before exploring the nightlife in the great cities in which we meet.
One recent added value that we were able to provide to our members was to provide a code for free attendance for an American Arbitration Association-sponsored webinar program called “What Advocates Can Learn from Walking in an Arbitrator’s Shoes,” which featured former Division 1 Chair Danny Shaw as part of a distinguished panel. Michael Marra of the AAA brought the idea to us to hold a webinar for Division 1’s members, and his team at the AAA put it together flawlessly.
As you can see, we stay busy in Division 1. To stay on top of all of these activities, we meet on monthly calls on the third Monday of every month. These are our Steering Committee calls, and we try to keep these calls brief. On these calls, we solicit volunteers for various efforts ongoing within the Division – whether it involves putting a lunch program together or helping identify the right location in a meeting city for a social event. By getting on these calls, people find out what is going on and can find the best place to start getting involved with Division 1. In addition, each of our liaisons to the standing committees within the Forum provide an update as to what is going on in each committee. In this way, everyone stays up-to-date with what is going on within the Forum and the Division.
With all the goings-on in Division 1, we are always looking for additional help. We are only as good as the members who step up and help plan and present. If you are interested, please email Division 1’s chair, Tony Lehman, at [email protected].