January 12, 2015

Section News

Regional Chapter Meets in Washington, D.C.
Kenneth Feinberg, the attorney and mediator who has overseen efforts such as the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund, the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster Victim Compensation Fund, and the fund for victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, was the guest speaker at the Section’s first regional chapter meeting in October, which was held in Washington, D.C., as part of Mediation Week celebration. The meeting drew approximately 80 attendees from the mid-Atlantic region, and we look forward to the chapter providing continuing networking and educational opportunities for members throughout the year. 

ABA Delegation visits Cuba
A delegation of more than 40 Dispute Resolution Section members and spouses traveled to Cuba November 9-14, 2014. The delegation, led by former Section Chair Bruce Meyerson, met with Cuban judges, lawyers, law professors, and students and learned about the Cuban legal system and mediation and arbitration practice in Cuba. During this visit, which came shortly before the United States and Cuba announced a normalization of relations, the delegation also had the opportunity to enjoy Cuban culture and nightlife. The Section is planning opportunities for its members to interact and network with dispute resolution professionals in other countries.  

Task Force on Law School Education Formed
The Section has established a Task Force on Law School Education that is drafting language to ensure that mediation clinics meet law school accreditation criteria. 

Whither the Joint Session in Mediation?
The Section always seeks to support constructive discussion on key issues. The Fall 2014 issue of Dispute Resolution Magazine included two articles on the topic of the disappearance of the joint session in many commercial mediations, and a Section webinar in December focused on the effective use of the joint session. As Section leaders consider taking formal positions on such matters, it continues to encourage discussion on these and other important topics.

Young Lawyers Committee Setting Rules for New Program
The Young Lawyers Committee is developing guidelines to create a new Fellowship Program to support younger and more diverse practitioners in obtaining training and mentorship to support their entrance into the field. 

Diversity Committee Directory to Be Published
The Diversity Committee will be publishing a Minorities in Dispute Resolution Directory, similar to the highly successful Women in Dispute Resolution Directory. The recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, and the protests around the country highlight our continuing struggle with race relations and the need for more constructive dialogue around these issues. The Section will be exploring ways its members can partner with communities to use our dispute resolution skills and expertise to support conversations about these important national issues.

Section Contributes to ABA Futures Group and FINRA Report
The Section is contributing ideas to ABA President William C. Hubbard’s Futures Conclave, which includes a Working Group on Dispute Resolution. We have also developed a working group to develop ideas related to considering how dispute resolution services can support increasing access to justice. In addition, the Section has formed a task force to provide feedback to FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which created its own task force in 2014 to consider possible enhancements to its arbitration and mediation forum.

Mediator Self-Assessment Program Planned
The Mediation Committee is working on a Mediator Self-Assessment Program, which will be targeted to independent mediators who do not work for a provider. The program aims to develop a process in which the Section will develop and administer the results of a survey received from lawyers and clients following mediations. Responses would be anonymous, and the information would be supplied to the mediators in a batch on a confidential basis. A group of 25 ABA Dispute Resolution Section members will be invited to participate in a trial, expected to last from six to nine months, to vet the questionnaires and the process.

Leadership Retreat Scheduled
A leadership retreat will be held on April 15 in Seattle in advance of the Spring Conference to bring together Council members and committee Chairs to discuss strategic initiatives for the Section.