September 13, 2019 Dispute Resolution Magazine

From the Chair

Joan Stearns Johnsen

I feel honored to begin my term as Chair of the Section of Dispute Resolution. This Section has been important to me for so many years. My own involvement began when former Section Chair Deborah Masucci tapped me to develop the Section’s CLE teleconference programs. through my work for the Section over the years, I have continued to learn about my field, expand my knowledge, and enhance my skills. I have made many new and treasured friends around the country and the world. I hope you will allow me to reach out and include you. I will be looking to all of you to join me in serving our dispute resolution community. My hope is we will together tackle new challenges and develop new friendships.

Among my goals for this coming year is to continue the leadership of outgoing Chair Harrie Samaras and her focus on our clients. With this in mind, I have convened a task force to explore the expanded use of dispute resolution techniques such as deal facilitation, standing neutrals, and conflict prevention in the commercial context. We have a remarkable group of corporate leaders, already at work exploring practical approaches for implementing innovative new applications of our skill set.

Another goal is to create content that will help our members expand and manage their practices. Simply stated, we want to help you get more cases and then become more efficient in managing your expanded case load with awareness of the newest software and the most current information regarding cybersecurity obligations and protocols. We also want to make sure you are up to date on social media platforms and ethical use of these tools. We aspire to be the most comprehensive resource for neutral practice development and management in a complex and competitive marketplace.

We also look forward to another gathering of our members at the 2020 Spring Conference, which will be held in New Orleans from April 22 to April 25, 2020. The 2020 conference theme is Innovation, Inspiration, and Improvisation. We are committed to crafting educational sessions on the most interesting and newest information and techniques. We also plan to take full advantage of the exciting, and delicious New Orleans opportunities.

As I begin my year, I give my deep and sincere thanks to outgoing Chair Harrie Samaras for her inspired and tireless work on behalf of our Section and our profession. Harrie has provided great vision and leadership, and she will be a challenging act to follow.

This past year had many successes, including, for example, another stellar Arbitration Institute, for which I thank Institute Chairs Bruce Meyerson and Dana Welch. In his role as our International Exchange Liaison, Bruce also coordinated a delegation of Section members who traveled to Florence, Italy, to connect with the local dispute resolution community. Along with seeing the sights and sampling the local pasta, we met with dispute resolution leaders and practitioners from around the world who convened at the Chamber of Commerce and Florence University to exchange views on mediation and arbitration practices and standards. Yet another highlight was the first ever presentation of the Frank Sander Innovation Award which was presented at the Annual Meeting to Edith (Edie) Primm, the executive Director of the Justice Center of Atlanta who has specialized in community justice and dispute resolution for decades, and to Colin Rule, the vice president of Online Dispute Resolution at Tyler Technologies who has been working in online dispute resolution for more than 20 years. Honoring these two innovators is a great tribute to the memory of Professor Sander, the longtime Harvard Law School professor and dispute resolution pioneer whose vision and imagination helped launch both our field and this magazine.

Although technology allows us to connect and learn in new and exciting ways, there is no real substitute for getting together in person, and I encourage Section members to attend the Spring Conference and other gatherings, including Ombuds Day and Mediation Week events across the country in October, the Mediation Institute in Houston in November, and the Arbitration Institute in Phoenix in March.

I am excited and challenged by this opportunity and responsibility. As we further the work we care so deeply about in our Section, I look forward to working with old friends and making new ones.

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Dispute Resolution Magazine Digital Extras

  1. Further readings on How We Got Here:
    Recent Application of BG Group by Lionel M. Schooler
  2. Video examples for Beyond Abstinence 

Joan Stearns Johnsen

Section of Dispute Resolution, Chair

Joan Stearns Johnsen is a Senior Legal Skills Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law and an Arbitrator and Mediator for AAA, CPR, AHLA, and FINRA.  She can be reached at joan@jsj-adr.com.

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