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Designing the Future of Dispute Resolution Globally

  • Posted by: Ellen Kandell
future, conflict, dispute resolution

Alternative or appropriate dispute resolution (ADR) has become a big part of the legal and business landscape in the past thirty years.  With the advent of technology and the exponential growth of international commercial transactions, dispute resolution and the legal system will need to continue to evolve and a series of national and international conferences began this spring in Singapore in order to do just that.  On Monday, September 12th, I attended the Global Pound Conference in New York City.  It was a fascinating interactive day where participants had a chance to discuss how to shape the future of dispute resolution and improve access to justice.  I’d like to tell you about the conference and encourage you to attend a future event in your area.

What is the Global Pound Conference?

The International Mediation Institute has kicked off the Global Pound Conference, an ambitious series of one-day events hosted in 36 cities in 26 countries designed to create a dialogue and gather real time information on all forms of civil justice in the context of commercial disputes.  Its goal is to change the culture and methods of resolving conflicts.

What’s the history of the name?

Roscoe Pound was Dean of Harvard Law School from 1916-1936.  He convened a conference in 1906 about the administration of justice.  Seventy years later, the American Bar Association convened the National Conference on the Causes of Popular Dissatisfaction with the Administration of Justice, which became known as the Pound Conference, in honor of Dean Pound’s contributions to law and justice.  The U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger delivered a prescient address titled “Agenda for 2000AD – The Need for Systemic Anticipation.”

At that conference, Harvard Law Professor Frank Sander, one of my mediation instructors, proposed the idea of a multi-door courthouse.  The ADR  seed was planted and it has germinated well in the past 40 years.  One of the first multi-door courthouses was started in the District of Columbia’s Superior Court.

What is the GPC designed to accomplish?

Many current conflict resolution procedures, whether arbitration, court ordered mediation, or litigation take enormous amounts of time and resources.  Lives of the participants and their businesses are disrupted during this time period. “We need a new way of looking at conflict management and guiding users in thinking about their procedural choices and their possible consequences.”  The Global Pound initiative is designed to help develop future options by exploring and analyzing current and future practices and user needs and expectations for dispute resolution.

How is it different from other conferences on dispute resolution?

The GPC events are a chance to have a real impact on the future of the field of dispute resolution, particularly as it applies to commercial and civil conflicts. You will have a chance to vote on about 20 key questions from your perspective-whether it be as a provider or user of dispute resolution services, academic, researcher or other interested stakeholder.  Thus you will have a chance to immediately see how your answers compare to others at the conference.  Then you will be able to participate in small group discussions about these issues, followed by expert panel discussions of the voting results.  All of this is enabled by a technology platform which will produce local reports as well as a final report at the end of 2017.

What did the New York City GPC conference produce?

The fascinating aspect of this conference is the ability to get real-time results about the discussion and the polling that takes place at each conference.  The results of the New York conference can be found here.

Why should you attend?

It is vital that a broad range of stakeholders and service providers attend these conferences.  I found that the NY GPC was heavily weighted towards large law firms and corporate interests.  However, this is only one perspective.  Multiple perspectives need to be part of this discussion in order for this initiative to have meaningful results.  Future dates and locations of other GPC conferences are available here.  I encourage you to attend one of these events.  I am serving on the organizing committee of the April 2017 Washington, DC event and I hope to see you there.


Ellen F. Kandell is a certified professional mediator and attorney with over 30 years of public and private sector experience. She provides mediation, group facilitation and training to diverse, national clients. Get in touch with her via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, or give her a call at 301-588-5390.




Author: Ellen Kandell

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