Because our Section is a volunteer organization whose members are often focused on specific projects and tasks, it’s sometimes easy to overlook the far-reaching influence it exercises. I am highlighting here just a few recent examples of that unique influence.
In October, we celebrated Mediation Week in 35 different cities around the country with programs about mediation and career paths in the mediation field. That same month, the Ombuds Committee launched its first Ombuds Day in Washington, DC, to raise awareness of the ombuds profession and the value that various types of ombuds can provide to organizations and institutions. The committee also honored Chuck Howard, former Ombuds Committee chair, for his long-standing leadership and service to the committee.
Influencing the development and improvement of dispute resolution skills is a goal of our institutes, including a one-day Negotiation Institute planned for February 15, 2019, at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, California. This program, a collaboration between the ABA Dispute Resolution and Labor and Employment sections, will offer lectures and hands-on mock negotiations and mediations in which experts in the field will improve participants’ negotiation skills and help them handle ethical issues that may arise in negotiations. Another great example is the Section’s 12th Annual Arbitration Training Institute, which will be held at the offices of Pepper Hamilton in Philadelphia on May 16 and May 17. This two-day program will cover the core concepts of the arbitration process for advocates and arbitrators. Over lunch, attendees will be treated to an insider’s view of arbitration issues argued before the United States Supreme Court by two leading Supreme Court advocates, Andrew Pincus of Mayer Brown LLP and Deepak Gupta of Gupta Wessler PLLC. The program will also provide tips for developing an arbitration practice, address ethical issues, and feature sessions covering employment, healthcare, securities, and international arbitration issues.
Technology broadened our influence this year in coalescing presenters and participants for the Section’s first Relational Practice Virtual Summit based on the theme “I can relate! Skills, Ideas, and Models for Engaging Differences.” Some of the more than 20 programs were available as live webinars, while others were pre-recorded and available on YouTube. The planners cast a wide net, providing content to appeal to a broad audience, including attorneys, law students, ombuds, mediators, facilitators, doctors, and business persons.
Thanks to Ben Davis, the Section’s immediate past Chair, our influence stretched to China, where he represented the Section at the International Mediation Summit of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade Mediation Center and the Asian Mediation Association in Changsha, in Hunan Province in September 2018. While there, Ben spoke on the topic, “What makes a successful convention?” during the session on Updates on the Development of Enforcement of Mediation Agreements by UNCITRAL.
The Section also frequently provides information, insights, and perspectives to others seeking to learn about dispute resolution in the United States. For example, at the request of the International Law Institute in Washington, DC, the Section assembled a panel of presenters to address 35 members of the China Law Society who were interested in the Section’s work, federal and state court ADR programs, and ethical rules and practices for mediators and arbitrators in the United States. And responding to an invitation by the ABA’s Rule of Law Initiative, a representative from the Section addressed prominent visitors from Haiti, in the United States on a study tour, on the topic of dispute resolution practices in this country.
We should never underestimate the importance of work done by our committees and task forces. One particularly ambitious example is the newly formed standing committee led by Nancy Welsh, the Research Advisory Committee, whose charge includes (1) bringing science to the delivery of conflict prevention and dispute resolution services; (2) placing the Section at the intersection of practice knowledge and know-how; and (3) assisting with the development and sharing of cutting-edge information to strengthen the practices of Section members, the ADR profession, and the use of ADR by end users.
The new digital format of this magazine is another example of the Section’s extensive reach. Members can now access PDFs of entire issues or individual articles and read them in mobile-friendly formats, making the articles available almost anywhere. However, if you want to continue to receive the magazine in print format, you can opt-in to do so at MyABA.org.
It is difficult to adequately describe the influence that the Section and all its members have. So let me simply thank our members who are committed to resolving disputes and helping others do so for all the influential roles they play.