Conflict Resolution

Denver Conference Promises Excitement

Unless you have been living on Mars, you know that this year’s ABA Dispute Resolution Section Conference will take place in Denver in two weeks — April 13-16.   

I have been busy preparing the panel I am conducting with Jay Folberg and Dai Kato, and this morning was looking over the many events on the program as a whole.  It really is robust, and the members of the Section are coming through with some extraordinary topics.

This is the panel that Jay, Dai and I will be offering on Thursday morning at 9:30:

Conflict, Retribution and Spiritual Traditions

 A policeman comes upon a pedestrian inadvertently injured by a motorcyclist. In Des Moines, the policeman may write a summons and prepare a report for the court and the insurance company. In Shanghai, the policeman might facilitate a conversation that results in the motorcyclist’s offering some money and an apology, and the pedestrian’s accepting both. Perceptions of injury and the desire to seek individual retribution vary around the world. Why? Might these cultural distinctions have a spiritual source? What effect does spiritual tradition have on the desire to seek vindication? What is the effect of spirituality on individual behavior and social institutions? Might mediators benefit from being in touch with their own capacity for spirituality, and with the teachings of the great religious and spiritual traditions?

Irena Vanenkova will be there to talk about the IMI’s recently promulgated draft standards for cross-cultural mediators.  Jane Juliano and Mike Moffitt have an interesting topic:

Always Keeping Faith: How Religious Negotiators Think about Implementing Their Religious Values in Business Negotiations

 Although at least 80% of Americans say religion is important to them, and America’s business schools have integrated the latest negotiation research into their curricula, there have been no empirical studies of religion’s role in negotiation choices or strategy. Even if a minority of negotiators strives to adhere to religious values in their negotiation interactions, dispute resolution professionals should understand these clients. This workshop will help mediators understand how these negotiators think about the interaction of their values and their negotiation choices and outcomes by reporting the results of a new study in which religious businesspeople and lawyers from a variety of religions were interviewed in depth. The lead researcher will report on the findings, including how religious negotiators think about success, their relationship with adversaries, their negotiation style and tactics. Panelists will discuss implications for practice and further research.

Here is another one, on a topic I’m wrestling with right now in a pending arbitration that has been fraught with delay:

Ethics and Arbitration – It Is About More Than Disclosure

 While most people associate arbitrator ethics with the disclosure of conflicts of interest, there are numerous other ethical issues that arise out of arbitrations that raise difficult questions for both arbitrators and parties. This program will explore a number of those ethical issues, including the extent and circumstances in which parties can communicate with their party appointed arbitrator, concerns about delay, failure to produce evidence, publicity, intimidation, frivolous motion practice, or other tactics employed by parties to obstruct an arbitration, challenges to the arbitrator or substitutions of counsel during the arbitration proceedings, as well as other scenarios. In addition, recent case law that addresses matters relevant to the Code of Ethics for Arbitrators in Commercial Disputes and the results of the International Bar Association’s investigation of global differences in ethical obligations in arbitration will be discussed.

Eric Tuchmann, American Arbitration Association, New York, NY, Edna Sussman, Sussman ADR LLC, New York, NY, Eugene Farber, Farber Pappalardo & Carbonari, White Plains, NY

And between the topic and the panel you can’t keep me away from this one:

Art Imitates Life — What “The Story of Qiu Ju” Teaches Us About Mediator Competency

Sensitivity to the need for a wide range of competencies is necessary for creative solutions. This workshop will focus on the subtle, yet practical, tools a mediator should bring to the mediation. The panel will address these subtleties and other aspects of mediation, using an innovative vehicle, the film, The Story of Qiu Ju (1992), directed by Zhang Yimou and based on the novella, The Wan Family’s Lawsuit, by Yuan Bin Chen. The film portrays a fictional account of a woman in rural China, Qiu Ju, who seeks a just (re)solution after an incident in which the village chief, in response to insults by the woman’s husband, kicks the husband in the groin. Mediator competencies that will be explored include, but are not limited to, the ability of the mediator: (1) to assist the parties to make use of apology; (2) to help the parties understand forgiveness as a step toward resolution; (3) to be sensitive to and build on cues that may be gender-based; and (4) to understand and to appreciate the effectiveness and limitations of a directive mediator; and, (5) to be able to recognize cultural differences relating to party expectations of the mediation process and ethical behavior.

Professor Homer C. La Rue, JAMS & Howard University School of Law, Columbia, MD, Professor Ilhyung Lee, Center for the Study Dispute Resolution University of Missouri School of Law, Columbia, MO, Judith P. Meyer, Commercial Dispute Solutions, Haverford, PA

I could go on, but why not just stop here with the appetizers in the hope that as many as possible show up for the entire repast? See you in Denver!

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