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Lawyer as Problem Solver Award

The ABA Lawyer as Problem Solver Award honors John W. Cooley, a renowned arbitrator, mediator, and professor of conflict resolution at Northwestern University Pritzer School of Law and Kellogg School of Management Dispute Resolution Research Center.

He wrote several alternative dispute resolution handbooks, including The Creative Problem Solver’s Handbook for Negotiators and Mediators, and was a frequent consultant in the design of dispute resolution systems.

Eligibility and Criteria

  1. Individual members of the legal profession and/or an institution who has exhibited extraordinary skill in either promoting the concept of the lawyer as problem-solver or resolving individual, institutional, community, state, national, or international problems.  Award recipients will be acknowledged for their use or promotion of collaboration, negotiation, mediation, counseling, decision-making, and problem-solving skills to help parties resolve a problem in a creative and novel way.
  2. The nominees for this Award in both orientation and skills must demonstrate:
    1. The ability to analyze situations or to consider expert analysis from a multi-disciplinary perspective, taking into account the broad array of client or party interests and the multitude of factors and circumstances that impact the "problem" presented;
    2. The ability to translate positions into interests;
    3. The ability to generate and assess – and to help the client or parties involved generate and assess – both conventional and novel options to address the problem; and
    4. The ability to build consensus around an option which best addresses the goals and interests of a client or the involved participants. 


The nomination period has closed.

Previous Winners



  • Matterhorn Court Innovations and MJ Cartwright 


  • Natalie Morris-Sharma


  • Association of Family and Conciliation Courts


  • Divided Community Project at Moritz College of Law



  • Individual Award: Judith Kaye
  • Institution Award: The Justice Center of Atlanta


  • Individual Award: Ron Ousky
  • Institution Award: Resource Center for Separating and Divorcing Families (RCSDF)


  • U.S. Department of Justice, Community Relations Service


  • Kenneth R. Feinberg
  • Harry Tindall


  • College of Commercial Arbitrators


  • Individual Award: Bennet Picker
  • Individual Award: Andrew Schepard
  • Institution Award:


  • Individual Award: Basil Paterson
  • Institution Award: Boston Law Collaborative


  • Individual Award: Tina Rasnow
  • Institution Award: Brooklyn, New York, District Attorney’s Office


  • Individual Award: David Sandborg
  • Institution Award: The Innocence Project


  • Individual Award: David W. Plant
  • Institution Award: The Red Hook Community Justice Center


  • Individual Award: Carl Poirot
  • Institution Award: San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program


  • Individual Award: Forrest S. Mosten
  • Institution Award: The Dispute Resolution 
  • Center of Harris County, Texas


  • Individual Award: Charles Asher
  • Institution Award: United States Air Force


  • Individual Award: Pauline Tesler
  • Individual Award: Stuart Webb
  • Institution Award: Passaic County Legal Aid Society