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2021 Spring Conference Request for Proposals

Program proposals must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. (Eastern) on November 30th using this Program Submission Link.

To review or download the proposal questionnaire before submitting your proposal, see the links below. However, please note that these are NOT proposal submission forms and you MUST submit your proposal through the Program Submission Link above.

Proposal Questionnaire - PDF

Things To Consider When Developing Your Proposal 

Accepted proposals must adhere to the ABA and the Section of Dispute Resolution diversity goals with respect to speakers. This requires that all programs with three or more presenters include at least one speaker from an underrepresented group in the profession such as a person of color, a woman, a person with a disability, or a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender person. Individual programs with 5-8 presenters, including the moderator, require at least 2 diverse presenters. Click here for full details of our policy. Program Organizers also should consider including qualified young lawyers on their panels. The Women in Dispute Resolution Directory ( and the Section of Dispute Resolution Diversity Committee may be helpful in identifying diverse panel members.

All moderators and speakers (other than plenary speakers) who attend any virtual event at the conference other than their own presentation must register for the conference and pay the applicable registration fee. All moderators and speakers (other than plenary speakers) who present at the in-person conference must register for the conference and pay the applicable registration fee regardless of whether they attend other events.

Proposal Organizers are strongly encouraged to consult with the chairs of relevant Section of Dispute Resolution Committees before submitting proposals. Committee chairs have a good sense of topics that are of interest to Section and committee members and may also be able to suggest appropriate speakers who will contribute to panel diversity. A list of committees, links to committee websites, and committee chair contact information can be accessed on the Section Committees and Task Forces page.

Program Selection And Notification 

Factors that will be considered in selecting programs include the extent to which: the program would provide valuable information for the conference attendees the planned presentation format is appropriate for the program content the program is consistent with the conference theme the proposal is clear, complete, and well thought out the program title and description are clear, concise, accurate and likely to draw conference attendees the proposed presenters have expertise in the subject matter of the program the proposal meets the ABA's diversity goals the proposal includes presenters from different organizations the program content has not been presented at another conference.

Proposals will be peer reviewed by section members, committee chairs, and other experts in the field. The peer reviewers will assess how well the proposals meet the above criteria and recommend whether the proposed session should be included within the Conference.

The Conference Committee will consider the peer reviews and make the final program selections. During the selection process, the Conference Committee may contact Program Organizers about their proposals to clarify, augment or revise their proposals if needed before final program selections are made. The Conference Committee will notify the Program Organizers whether their proposals have been accepted by January 2021.

Program Organizer Responsibilities For Accepted Programs

By submitting a proposal, a Program Organizer agrees to: Serve as the primary contact for the panel—including receiving communications from the Conference Committee, Section staff, and committee leaders.

Facilitate the coordination, planning, and implementation of the program.

Publicize the program – and the entire Spring Conference – to relevant committees and other interested groups. (The Conference Committee and ABA staff assist with publicity tools.)

If MCLE credit will be offered for the program, ensure that appropriate, high-quality written materials are provided. (This should be in collaboration with the speakers but is ultimately the program organizer’s responsibility.)

Ensure that all program speakers are aware of the registration and other program requirements and register for the Conference.

Program Organizer Roles

The Program Organizer will fill one of the following roles:

  • Organizer-only - the liaison to ABA staff and presenters when planning program details but will not be participating in the program.
  • Host - will introduce the program, presenters, and sponsors and give closing remarks but will not otherwise be participating on the program.
  • Moderator - will control the flow of the program between presenters and direct attendee Q&A.
  • Facilitator - will facilitate a discussion between attendees and this will be the content of the program. (There will be no “presenters.”)
  • Presenter - will be presenting some or all the content for the program.

Program Formats

Speed Share

An opportunity for a five-minute speed presentation based on a topic in your wheelhouse. Inspire attendees with a speedy snapshot of your work or insights. We love to learn about successes and failures. A Speed Share requires you to create at least five PowerPoint slides to present during your five minutes. Speed share programs will be grouped together during the actual conference and a moderator/host will facilitate transitions from one Speed Share to the next.

Panel Programs

Panel sessions offer two to four presenters the opportunity to weave together innovative ideas, practical experiences, fresh approaches and perspectives, and critical reflection on a current topic or pressing issue.

Roundtable Discussions

Roundtables are small, informal group discussions that give attendees the opportunity to exchange information, discuss best practices, and network with others around common themes and issues. Roundtable facilitators should identify and develop a topic that will allow participants to discuss how they are dealing with specific issues in their own work. Roundtable discussions are limited approximately to ten individuals per table, including participants and facilitator(s). Individuals submitting roundtable proposals should address the topics to be covered, their importance to current practice, three questions they would use to keep the discussion moving, and their experience managing discussions.

Resource Share

Resource Shares are large moderated roundtable discussions addressing a specific topic. As one example, for many years the Section of Dispute Resolution spring conference has included a Legal Educators’ Resource Share, facilitated by two law professors, where teachers share ideas for classroom exercises and teaching tools.

TechTools Presentations

These programs will showcase how technologies can be used by dispute resolution practitioners and academics. Have you adopted a technology that has changed your practice? Do you have ideas for how dispute resolution practitioners can incorporate new technologies into their work? TechTools presentations are 15, 30, or 60 minutes, can consist of both demonstrative and participatory content, and should include at least 5 minutes for audience Q&A. Please note TechTools presentations are learning opportunities and not a selling opportunity. If you have a Tech product or software to sell to dispute resolution practitioners, please see information about the Conference Exhibit Hall, available in the 2021 Sponsorship, Exhibiting, and Advertising Packet (available soon).


Workshops offer significant active and in-depth learning. Participants will engage an issue, learn a new skill, or develop an action plan or other activity where hands-on learning is integral. Proposals should allow for significant involvement and contribution to the learning process from the participants.

Proposals will be selected for the conference based on the timeliness of the topic, the stated learning outcomes, drafts of interactive exercise(s), and the degree of active learning. In order to ensure that the sessions really are “hands-on” and provide participants with a tangible skill or action plan by the end of the session, submissions must include an example of an activity you plan to provide.

Sponsorship, Exhibiting, and Advertising Opportunities

We encourage individuals and organizations to become conference sponsors, exhibitors, and advertisers. Benefits and rates will soon be available soon in the 2021 Spring Conference Sponsorship, Exhibiting, and Advertising Packet.

For Questions, Concerns, Or Additional Information

Gina Viola Brown, ABA Section of Dispute Resolution Associate Director, [email protected], 202-212-9314