January 20, 2010

Lawyer as Problem Solver Award

Nominations are due September 30, 2020

The ABA Lawyer as Problem Solver 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. 

Submit a nomination for the Lawyer as Problem Solver Award.

Current Recipient

Natalie Morris-Sharma is the 2020 recipient of the Lawyer as Problem Solver Award. Ms. Morris-Sharma is recognized for her work facilitating a multi-party negotiation process involving 60 country delegations selected by the General Assembly and 25 or more NGOs. Over a three-year period, as Chair of UNCITRAL’s Working Group II, she facilitated the successful drafting process that produced the historic Singapore Mediation Convention. Integral to her success was her problem-solving skills and her ability to listen, allow everyone to present their views, reframe disagreements in a fashion to be heard, and allow time for delegates to digest and understand proposals.

Ms. Morris-Sharma showed strength and leadership throughout the proceedings. Not only was the result the drafting of the Singapore Convention but within months, over 50 countries signed the convention and are moving forward to ratification. Ms. Morris-Sharma is a role model for lawyers and dispute resolvers globally.  

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

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


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


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


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


Individual Award: David Sandborg
Institution Award: The Innocence Project

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

Individual Award: Basil Paterson
Institution Award: Boston Law Collaborative


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

College of Commercial Arbitrators

Kenneth R. Feinberg
Harry Tindall

U.S. Department of Justice, Community Relations Service

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

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

Individual Award: Lainey Feingold

Divided Community Project at Moritz College of Law

Association of Family and Conciliation Courts