The triumphal presence of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in civil litigation today cannot be questioned, and its influence will continue to grow. All lawsuits require written discovery requests and responses, most require depositions and motion practice, many require expert witnesses, pretrial and final pretrial conferences, and a few require trials. Litigators have plenty to do. But whether it occurs by mandatory court rules, case-specific court orders or voluntary agreements, ADR processes partner with civil pretrial practice to conclude most cases in lieu of trial. Current economic conditions are colliding with court funding needs to reduce trial court time for and experience with civil disputes. This combination of high pretrial expense burdens, court docket limitations and delays, and diversion of parties’ productive time, make it plain that capable dispute resolution processes are the way forward for civil litigation, explaining ADR’s current popularity.
Talent is necessary to fulfill ADR’s promise. Skilled mediators, arbitrators, special masters, early neutral evaluators and advocates are vital to the disputants, the judiciary, and even the implicit, constitutional imperative that rights are worth it. Rarely are negotiation abilities inborn. Rather, forums are necessary to offer neutrals and those who present viewpoints to neutrals with the training and educational platforms essential to effective settlement outcomes. Welcome to DRI’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee! We need your help. Our goal is to provide members with value-added, experiential wisdom and practical tips—through For The Defense articles, the committee’s newsletter, webconferences, a blog presence and in-person seminar presentations—to improve our effectiveness in the process that ends most cases. All the while, we’ll have some fun building friendships and networking at DRI’s many great functions.
Our committee’s programming will continue our focus to stay abreast of current ADR topical interests, including developments affecting contractually mandated arbitration enforceability, ethics rules affecting neutrals, techniques to break through impasse and party posturing, tolerance for cross-cultural negotiation approaches, ADR service-provider opportunities in international practice, remedy-building that transcends mere money judgments, special master cost controls, judicial review of arbitration awards, statutory arbitration act developments, and neutral selection considerations. But we'll also focus on ADR practice development and expansion ideas, neutral facilitation performance improvement training, and “nuts and bolts” practical tips for effective day-to-day mediation practice for advocates. Due for relaunching this year is our DRI Mediator Roster, which will allow members to post their names and ADR credentials for consideration as neutral providers by parties worldwide. We’ll also update our state ADR continuing education credit database and seek state credit approvals for presentations sponsored by the committee.
We seek members not only from private practices, but also in government service and corporate counsel practices, where quality ADR service availability is especially coveted in these times of budget duress. We also wish to reach out to ADR service providers to encourage DRI membership, presentation attendance, and seminar/newsletter sponsorship opportunities. Raising our committee’s profile within the larger DRI membership is important to us. Truly, our presence transcends most other substantive law committee specialties, inasmuch as ADR processes impact all practice areas. Additionally, we will nurture member interest in leadership opportunities through the many committee and subcommittee positions available. Experience proves that active DRI involvement improves practice. In sum, we encourage membership for all those interested in improving the science of ADR delivery, the business of ADR practice-building, and the fun of ADR networking and “social mixer” events at DRI gatherings. Join us!