January 31, 2018

January 2018 - Introducing the Relational Practices Task Force

The Relational Practices Task Force is devoted to fostering a paradigm shift from a transactional ethic to a relational ethic.

We support dispute resolution practitioners, lawyers, advocates, and negotiators in all practice areas in becoming more aware of their adversarial interactions and tendencies and more conscious and confident about choosing thoughts and actions which foster well-being rather than maximizing self-interest.

The ABA Dispute Resolution Section has created a relational practices task force. You may ask, “What are relational practices and why is there a task force?” A startling report on Lawyer Well-Being (August 2016) highlighted the crisis in the legal profession regarding depression, alcoholism and general incivility. The ABA was aware of a growing number of practitioners who are dedicated to new and more integrated ways of practice that seem to counter the effects of burnout and incivility and which to foster better outcomes for the lawyer and client.

Perhaps you too have been questioning aspects of traditional legal practice that have led to burnout or a jaded view. Perhaps you have noticed that somewhere in your legal career you began to live a bifurcated life: your professional persona in one arena and your personal persona in another. For many of you, you also chose to do something about that, perhaps a primary motivator for becoming part of the alternative dispute resolution field. The ABA has launched a task force on this shift: The Relational Practices Task Force.

The Relational Practices Task Force exists to create a movement in response to what I call the Adversarial Crisis in the legal system which has caused, and is causing, great suffering in society and throughout the legal profession for judges, lawyers and their clients. The Task Force is devoted to fostering a paradigm shift from a transactional ethic to a relational ethic. The movement will support dispute resolution practitioners, lawyers, advocates, and negotiators in all practice areas in becoming more aware of their adversarial interactions and tendencies and more conscious and confident about choosing thoughts and actions which foster well-being rather than maximizing self-interest, theirs and their clients’, at the expense of others. Choosing to be relational empowers lawyers to move beyond the adversarial ethos by giving them a framework and practical ways to be effective in more expansive ways, more human in decent ways. Relational practices not only improve the quality of interaction, especially difficult interaction, but they create well-being, increase work satisfaction and client satisfaction. Such approaches allow practitioners to care for themselves and to more competently and effectively serve their clients, the legal system and the public interest.

If this piques your interest, please join us at the ADR Spring Conference, April 4-7, 2018 in Washington, DC for a Relational Practices Task Force welcome meeting on Friday afternoon. Please also join the inaugural internet/phone/video Relational Practices Telesummit September 10-14, 2018. We are seeking cutting edge thinkers and practitioners of a Relational approach who are able to articulate clearly in 6 minute, 18 minute and 30 minute increments what being relational means to them and what relational practices look like. It’s going to be lively and educational! In this edition of the newsletter, don’t miss Kim Wright’s article on the Telesummit and the link to the RFP to be a content contributor to the Telesummit.

In this edition of the Just Resolutions Newsletter, we begin to offer seeds of new thinking and practicing. Enjoy Section Director Linda Seely overview of The Relational Practitioner Taskforce,” and Professor Susan Brooks writes about relational practice for legal education. You can anticipate a series of thoughtful articles on Relational Practices in future newsletters, and we invite you to contribute. We also hope to inspire you with the blog, Transforming the Adversarial Ethic: Being Relational, which will launch in the next edition. We welcome you to join the relational practices movement. Together we will look at the unintended consequences of the adversarial ethic, take a stand for a more relational way of being and support each other and the shift in practice both in thought, word and action.

Louise Phipps Senft
Chair of the Relational Practices Task Force

The Relational Practitioner Taskforce

Linda Warren Seely

For many of us who are drawn to the appropriate dispute resolution field, we ‘left’ the legal profession, or more particularly litigation in the legal profession, to seek out a better way of being a lawyer. We wanted something that was more consistent with our values as people but even more importantly as problem solvers for our clients. Most of us want to help our clients find solution that fit. Legal Scholar and author Julie McFarlane in her book, The New Lawyer, mentions a conversation she had with a taxi driver about being a lawyer attending a conference on problem solving and to her surprise, the taxi driver responds that he never thought of lawyers as problem solvers but problem creators. Read more

Relational Practices for Legal Education
Susan L. Brooks

Mainstream legal education has focused almost exclusively on teaching legal doctrine and analysis, with perhaps some minor attention on teaching courtroom skills. Nevertheless, the expansion of areas such as alternative dispute resolution and clinical legal education demonstrate that this landscape has rapidly changed. As evidenced by this special newsletter issue, relational practices are emerging as a growing focus in the field of law. Read more

The Relational Practices Task Force of the ABA DR section is seeking proposals for speakers for our Telesummit to be scheduled September 10-14, 2018.

What’s a Telesummit?

A telesummit is like an online conference, with a series of speakers, workshops, and panels of experts organized around a specific theme. Our theme is I can relate! Skills, Ideas, and Models for Engaging Differences.

What is the format of the Telesummit?

Programs will be offered for about two hours a day for five consecutive days, around 20 programs over the course of the week. Each offering will be 6, 18, or 30 minutes long, offering a rich collection of topics and speakers.  Most will be presented by video. A few may be audio. Some are live. Others are pre-recorded. They may be interviews or talks, interactive or not.

What sort of content will be included?

The content will be a combination of CLE programs and informational programs. Material will appeal to a broad audience: attorneys, law students, ombuds, mediators, facilitators, doctors, business people, and peace builders in other industries.

Some programs will be pre-recorded while others will be live. During the week, participants may engage in scheduled live interactive sessions in real time. We will also create a Facebook group for on-going interactions.

We hope to create an agenda that is both informative and engaging.

Who are the Speakers?

The Task Force invites proposals from the community and has developed a form which is available at:


Proposals will be selected on the basis of relevance to the theme, conference participants, and the mission of the Relational Task Force. All proposals should directly address the issue of how the topic is relevant to the theme. Quality of the proposal and experience of the presenter will also be considered. We encourage new voices and honor those who have been working in this field for a long time. A note:  We expect that proposals will shape the program theme. Some otherwise excellent programs may not be chosen if they do not fit with the character of other presentations.

What if I have more questions?

The Task Force has created a simple website and your questions may be answered there. Otherwise, send us an email at moreinfo@legaltelesummit.com and one of the committee members will get back to you.

Advanced Arbitration Webinar Series

Webinars are scheduled each month through April. Registrants who miss the live program can instead watch a recording at their convenience “on demand.”

A list of all topics in the series can be found on the Events & CLE page.

January 25th is the registration deadline for the 2018 Representation in Mediation Competition for Law Students.

The 19th Annual Representation in Mediation Regional Competitions will be scheduled for February and March of 2018. The Finals will be held in conjunction with the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution Spring Conference in April 2018 in Washington, DC.

We need practitioners to serve as volunteer mediators and judges for both the regional competitions (in late February and early March) and the National Competition that will take place on April 4th and 5th in Washington, DC.

If you are interested in volunteering, please view the list of competition locations and contact the competition coordinator directly.

Use Code DRSALE50 to save up to 50% on books priced under $40!

Registration for the Spring Conference is now open and each week the ABA staff is adding more information about the conference.

You can see hotel and travel information, registration rates, a tentative schedule at a glance, and more on the conference web site.

Look for the online conference program book to be posted in early January and the conference app should be available to all conference registrants as of March 1.

Divided Community Project at Moritz College of Law to Receive Lawyer as Problem Solver Award

The ABA’s Section of Dispute Resolution has named the Divided Community Project (DCP) at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law the recipient of the 2018 institutional Lawyer as Problem Solver Award, which will be presented at the Section’s Spring Conference in Washington, DC.

The Divided Community Project, which grew out of an April 2015 meeting of leaders and mediators from throughout the United States with experience dealing with civil unrest in communities, is helping communities transform divisive issues into broad-based, forward-thinking community action.

The project utilizes a proactive approach to addressing community division: communities are first asked to focus on the roots of deep community divisions, and then project members take a multi-disciplinary approach to generating ideas to help those communities create plans before divisive incidents erupt.

Charles Craver selected as 2018 Recipient of Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work

Professor Charles Craver of George Washington University Law School is the 2018 recipient of the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution’s Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work, which honors individuals whose scholarship has contributed significantly to the field of dispute resolution.

Professor Craver’s writing is prolific and influential. His work on negotiation, particularly the modern use of distributive negotiation tactics and possible responses to them, has spawned other research and changed how lawyers approach negotiation. He has written seven ADR texts, including Effective Legal Negotiation and Settlement, first published in 1986 and now in its 8th edition. He has written 30 ADR journal articles and 35 online ADR articles over his career. 

Several of those articles include data from negotiation simulation outcomes his students have reached that forms the basis for discussions of the impact (and the lack thereof) of a negotiator’s race and sex on negotiation outcomes.

Registration is now open!

May 17-18, 2018
Akerman LLP
Miami, FL

Presented by nationally recognized experts, this two-day training features sessions on every stage of the arbitral process examined from the vantage point of neutrals, advocates, administrators and in-house counsel. Small group discussions allow participants to interact in depth with the faculty and each other. Substantive sessions address particular areas of arbitral practice.

Attention lawyers with less than 5 years of experience! The section has created a program aimed at young lawyers/professionals and law students who will be provided access to certain programs/workshops at the spring conference. If selected, your job at the conference will be to draft a summary of the program you are assigned to, interview the panelists and attendees, and post to the sections app this summary about the program.

Save the Date

Practice Development Institute
June 22-23
Chicago, IL

The American Arbitration Association is now accepting applications for the 2018 AAA Higginbotham Fellows Program. The training component of the Program will be hosted in New York during the week of May 21, 2018 in order to coincide with the AAA’s Annual Meeting. During the Program, Fellows will engage with leading ADR practitioners for an intensive week of training, seminars, and networking events.

Interested candidates can visit the Higgenbothan Fellows page to download a copy of the Program Guidelines and Application or to apply online. Applications should be received no later than February 9, 2018.

The American Arbitration Association established the AAA Higginbotham Fellows Program in 2009 in order to provide training, mentorship and networking opportunities to up and coming diverse alternative dispute resolution professionals. The AAA Higginbotham Fellows Program is a program designed to offer the full breadth of the AAA resources. Since its inception, the AAA Higginbotham Fellows Program has inducted 119 Fellows with 33 Fellows successfully advancing to the AAA Panel.

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The materials contained herein represent the opinions of the authors and editors and should not be construed to be those of either the American Bar Association or Section of Dispute Resolution unless adopted pursuant to the bylaws of the Association. Nothing contained herein is to be considered as the rendering of legal advice for specific cases, and readers are responsible for obtaining such advice from their own legal counsel. These materials and any forms and agreements herein are intended for educational and informational purposes only.