This afternoon Jeff Aresty, Don Philbin, Colin Rule, and I presented to the Texas Bar’s “Alternative Dispute Resolution 2015″ conference. Colin and Don demonstrated ODR platforms and I spoke briefly about the impact of technology on third party ethics. Basically, I suggested that the platforms Don and Colin were demonstrating would become more prevalent in the future, but that at the moment technology of some kind is used by all or almost all lawyers and third parties. My message was my usual one – any use of technology has an impact on the ethics of practice. I concentrated on confidentiality and security (with a focus on record keeping), and third party competence – those are the issues that I think are most on the minds of practitioners, and the most critical in dealing with parties. The presentation today was a short version of comments that I have made many times before, and which can be found in some of the publications on this site.
As my friends, colleagues, and students will attest, I don’t often seem at a loss for words. The attack on Charlie Hebdo, however, left me numbed by the repetition of killing for truth, and prompted me to draw what I would guess are a couple of dozen quick sketches of Charlie Brown in various shades of sorrow, anger, disgust, and, perhaps finally, resignation.
Every time one of these terror events occurs there seems to be a renewal of the assertion that the Muslim community does not publicly condemn those who kill in the name of Allah. Maybe, just maybe, a glimmer of silver lining this time could be that not only has the Muslim community spoken out quickly and loudly, some who have accused them of silence before are actually hearing the condemnations. Maybe that’s a little bit of silver lining. But it’s pretty cold comfort.
On one end of the spectrum in the US, Bill Maher, a noted and loudmouthed liberal, offers the opinion that with so many “bad apples” there must be “something wrong with the orchard.” At the other end, conservatives of all stripes have mouthed the expected words – not all Muslims are terrorists – but their actions, too, push us further toward division, suspicion, isolation, and intolerance. Overall, there are a lot of voices shouting out condemnation for the acts in Paris – and, as usual, the only ones I am sure are not listening at all are the ones who committed the acts, and the ones who will come after them to commit more.
I’m as sad, and angry, and bewildered as Charlie. And it cements in my mind the conviction that there is nothing so dangerous as an individual who is absolutely sure he or she knows the truth.
January brings two ODR courses. I will teach a short course in ODR for the McGeorge School of Law (U. of the Pacific) in early January, and then an online ODR course will run with Werner Institute students at Creighton University from January through early March.
The Fall 2014 edition of Dispute Resolution Magazine is out (online and in hard copy). The Fall volume is dedicated to the practice of arbitration and includes my article, “If an Eyebrow is Raised on the Internet, Will the Arbitrator See It?”
Cyber Week 2014
CyberWeek 2014 runs from Monday, November 3, through Friday, November 7. During the week I will be involved in a variety of activities, including webinars and discussion fora. On Monday, Susan Exon, Kristin Blankley, and I will conduct a webinar on issues surrounding third party ethics online. Beginning Monday and running through the week, I will co-moderate an online discussion forum with Angie Raymond, again on the subject of ethics. During the week, there will be an online mediation contest run by Katrina Nobles at Cornell, and for which I will be one of the judges. Sign up for the week is free at: CyberWeek 2014
This week kicks off two online ODR classes: One for Dominican University in Chicago, the other for the Center for Innovative Justice Technology. The Dominican class is part of the university’s graduate program in dispute resolution, and the CIJT class is offered to dispute resolution professionals and attorneys who want to learn the basic issues related to the use of technology in their practices. The CIJT class is co-taught with Larry Bridgesmith, an attorney and educator from Nashville, Tennessee.
ACR is again this year doing a series of podcasts based on panel presentations at the upcoming conference in Cincinnati. This year, I’m involved in two panels, one on cross-border commercial disputes and one on “complex” cases. I’ll be presenting with Colin Rule for the commercial panel, and with NMB colleagues Terri Brown and Jim MacKenzie for the complex case panel. The podcast discussing the two panels can be accessed by clicking here: PODCASTS
I am happy to say that I will assume a seat on the Board of Directors for the Northern Virginia Mediation Service at the Board Meeting Scheduled for July 29, 2014. I have been associated with NVMS in tangential ways for some time, as an instructor for courses and as an occasional donor. Taking a seat on the Board will begin a more formal long-term relationship, to which I look forward. I very much believe in the NVMS mission: “NVMS provides the community with accessible, affordable, and appropriate conflict resolution and education services. We help people find collaborative approaches to achieve acceptable and enduring outcomes.” I’m sure working with like-minded practitioners and supporters will be a pleasure.
The International Mediation Institute – IMI – has established a task force with members from around the world to address issues related to the definition of ODR and standards that should apply to ODR practitioners and providers. I am happy to say that I am one of the task force members.