August 16, 2019

Lawyer as Problem Solver Award

This Award was created by the Dispute Resolution Section and approved by the American Bar Association Board of Governors to recognize individuals and organizations that use their problem-solving skills to forge creative solutions. It is presented annually in conjunction with the Section’s Spring Conference. 

The Award honors John W. Cooley, a renowned arbitrator, mediator, and professor of conflict resolution at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law and Kellogg 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.

Selection Committee

The Chair or Co-Chairs of the John W. Cooley Lawyer as Problem Solver Award Selection Committee will be appointed each year by the Chair of the DR Section in consultation with the DR Section Chair-Elect both as of the DR Section’s Spring Conference. The Selection Committee may be comprised solely of the appointed Co-Chairs or the Co-Chairs may recruit three additional DR Section members to serve with them on the Selection Committee. 

Submit a nomination for the Lawyer as Problem Solver Award

2002
Individual Award: Pauline Tesler
Individual Award: Stuart Webb
Institution Award: Passaic County Legal Aid Society

2003
Individual Award: Charles Asher
Institution Award: United States Air Force

2004

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

2005

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

2006

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

2007

Individual Award: David Sandborg
Institution Award: The Innocence Project

2008
Individual Award: Tina Rasnow
Institution Award: Brooklyn, New York, District Attorney’s Office

2009
Individual Award: Basil Paterson
Institution Award: Boston Law Collaborative

2010

Individual Award: Bennet Picker
Individual Award: Andrew Schepard
Institution Award: Mediate.com

2011
College of Commercial Arbitrators

2012
Kenneth R. Feinberg
Harry Tindall

2014
U.S. Department of Justice, Community Relations Service

2015
Individual Award: Ron Ousky
Institution Award: Resource Center for Separating and Divorcing Families (RCSDF)

2016
Individual Award: Judith Kaye
Institution Award: The Justice Center of Atlanta

2017
Individual Award: Lainey Feingold

2018
Divided Community Project at Moritz College of Law