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Annual Awards Presented For a Court Research Paper Pioneering European Mediation Work, and to a Diversity Leader

By Editorial Team March 12, 2012

The CPR Institute’s 29th Annual Awards were led by presentations to an Italian conflict resolution provider, a website devoted to arbitration coverage, and for a professor’s inquiry into court-annexed ADR.

And Elpidio Villarreal, senior vice president and head of global litigation of pharmaceutical maker GlaxoSmithKline in Philadelphia, was presented with the CPR Award for Outstanding Contribution to Diversity in ADR.

This year’s awards focused on academic work that advances the conflict resolution field. They were presented at a dinner hosted by Weil, Gotshal & Manges at the firm’s New York offices on Jan. 11, just before the 2012 CPR Annual Meeting.

The Outstanding Practical Achievement Award went to Italy’s ADR Center, a Rome-based provider that through training and education over the past decade has been instrumental in changing attitudes about commercial conflict resolution first in Italy, and later throughout Europe.

An award for outstanding electronic media about ADR was presented to the Kluwer Arbitration Blog, which closely watches worldwide arbitration cases, statutes and corporate use of ADR processes.

The professional articles award went to Roselle L. Wissler, research director at the Lodestar Dispute Resolution Program at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law in Tempe, Ariz. She studied attorneys’ comparative views of court-connected settlement programs, which concluded that mediation with court-staff mediators, rather than volunteer neutrals, got the most positive responses, and the least negative ratings.

The other January award winners were:

  • Short article—S.I. Strong, for an exploration of class arbitration in Europe;
  • Student articles—2011 Ohio State University Moritz College of Law graduate Michael Diamond’s industry-specific law review article on mediating controversial community disputes over the siting of interstate electric transmission lines, and an article that examines mediation use in “international cultural property disputes”—that is, the looting of antiquities, by another Moritz 2011 graduate, Nate Mealy.
  • Book—“Elusive Peace: How Modern Diplomatic Strategies Could Better Resolve World Conflicts,” by Douglas E. Noll, a neutral, trainer and consultant in Clovis, Calif.

The 2011 annual awards were sponsored by Upchurch Watson White & Max, a national ADR provider and consulting firm that is based in four southeast offices, three in Florida and one in Birmingham, Ala. (See uww-adr.com.) The student awards were sponsored by Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, an Atlanta-based firm with 21 offices worldwide. (See www.kilpatrickstockton.com.)

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Elpidio Villarreal

CPR’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to Diversity in ADR was presented to GlaxoSmithKline’s Elpidio Villarreal in recognition of his significant contributions to diversity in the ADR field.

In fact, Villarreal, known as “PD,” has been active in the efforts of CPR’s National Task Force on Diversity, which established the award and selects the recipients. (The academic awards are independently judged by a group of 21 practitioners; more information is available on CPR’s website.)

The task force has produced an ADR Diversity audit (available at www.cpradr.org) which companies can use to analyze how their legal work is being performed. It helps companies measure and encourage the engagement of professional women and minorities in settlement negotiations, arbitration and litigation by outside law firms.

The task force is considering a corporate commitment to diversity, an ADR mentoring program and an apprentice program designed to further diversity among neutrals chosen to mediate or arbitrate by large corporations.

But Villarreal’s commitment to changing the legal profession has extended well beyond his conflict resolution work. He is a longtime board member of and advocate for LatinoJustice PRLDEF, an education and advocacy group that works throughout the Latin American community to encourage education and career building, and support civil rights.

Before joining GlaxoSmithKline—itself a recipient of CPR’s 2011 Corporate Leadership Award (see CPR News, 29 Alternatives 146 (September 2011))—Villarreal was vice president for litigation at Schering-Plough from 2005 to 2009. For the previous decade, he was senior litigation counsel for General Electric Co. in Fairfield, Connecticut.

A former partner at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal (now SNR Denton) in Chicago, Villarreal is a 1982 graduate of Columbia University (Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and a 1985 graduate of the Yale Law School.

[Villarreal is a board member of the CPR Institute, which publishes this newsletter.]

“Diversity runs very deeply in our life,” said Anne Weisberg, Villarreal’s wife, in accepting the award on her husband’s behalf at the CPR Awards dinner, adding, “In fact, it’s how we met.”

Weisberg recounted the story of the couple’s introduction when she was working at Catalyst, which studies and advocates for women in the workplace. Villarreal, then at GE, called to commission a workforce study with the group.

And, on diversity, said Weisberg, “We actually live it.” She said that her husband, a Mexican American, can’t help but discuss their work and interests, since Weisberg is director of diversity inclusion at Blackrock Inc., a big New York-based investment management company.

Villarreal is known for systematizing corporate approaches to addressing caseloads with ADR practices, both quantitative and qualitative, in his work at GE, Schering Plough, and GlaxoSmithKline. He advocates for lowering caseloads with prevention techniques. He has frequently spoken at CPR Institute gatherings on the need for preventive ADR and limiting wasteful litigation spending.

“It has become commonplace that the lawyer of today must be willing and able to provide a full spectrum of solutions to his client’s requirements and concerns,” wrote Villarreal in these pages more than a decade ago. He continued:

What I think has generally been lost, in the growing realization of the necessity for a more sophisticated, holistic approach to client needs, is the pivotal role played in this great awakening by ADR.

. . .

It is ADR which, in my view, has caused a whole generation of creative lawyers to realize that the great challenge lying before their profession is to change or die.

Elpidio Villarreal, “The Stream Becomes a Flood,” 19 Alternatives 68–69 (January 2001).

In 2006, Villarreal accepted a leadership award from LatinoJustice PRLDEF, when the civil rights group was known as the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund. Responding to attacks on immigrants from Mexico and Latin America by Republican law- and policy-makers, Villarreal reflected on his father and uncle, and the lives they led when they immigrated to the United States:

I am sure they were both afraid. But both of them found the courage and the strength to keep moving forward—as we all must.

. . .

They led hard and unsentimental lives, as did all my grandparents and their children. But, in the end, they found a home here. This country was brave and strong enough to give their descendents a chance to succeed or fail—their own chance to “achieve the dream.”

One of my greatest fears is that we are seeing the passing of that Great Country—replaced by one governed by fear—of the future, of the present, and of “the other.” Two paths are open to us. One path would keep us true to our fundamental values as a nation and a people. The other would lead us down a dark trail; one marked by 700-mile-long fences, emergency detention centers and vigilante border patrols.

Because I really am an American, heart and soul, and because that means never being without hope, I still believe we will ultimately choose the right path. We have to.

* * *

The ADR Center of Italy received CPR’s Outstanding Practical Achievement Award, which was accepted by managing director Leonardo D’Urso, a co-founder of the ADR provider and educational organization. The firm has pushed for ways to deal with the long backlogs in the Italian courts—which have had an extended effect of promoting mediation throughout Europe.

Those efforts have increased the use of mediation in Italian commercial cases. A proposal long backed by the ADR Center became law last year, making mediation mandatory, in the face of cases that regularly run for five to seven years.

That effort met strong resistance from the nation’s attorneys, which has been documented in Alternatives by ADR Center co-founder and president Giuseppe De Palo, who coauthors the monthly Worldly Perspectives column with Mary B. Trevor. See, e.g., “The ADR Strike Went On. And So Did the ADR.” 29 Alternatives 105 (May 2011).

[The Worldly Perspectives feature usually profiles the current ADR laws and practices in a different nation each month; this month’s column is on Finland.]

De Palo and the ADR Center strongly supported the 2008 European Union mediation directive, which required member nations to pass laws by last May implementing mediation programs for cross-border cases involving commercial parties. Those efforts also have been followed closely in Alternatives. See, e.g., Giuseppe De Palo, “Update: Nations Are Sharing their Progress on Installing the Cross-Border Mediation Directive,” 29 Alternatives 201 (December 2011).

The ADR Center has been instrumental in acclimating nations in Europe and Asia to commercial mediation. The center trained lawyers in ADR processes in 2005-2008 in the southern and eastern ends of the Mediterranean Sea, including Egypt, Greece, Jordan, Israel, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, and Turkey.

More recently, the center has been training judges with the European Union. The trainings focus on best practices in implementing the mediation directive, among other things. It conducted a training session for European judges in Rome early last month.

Meantime, back home, with the mandatory mediation law in place, the number of mediations in Italy has soared, with one million cases annually projected within a few years. That has been lucrative for the ADR Center, now an affiliate of JAMS International: The company has grown to 20 offices throughout Italy, including a 25-room mediation center in Milan, and roster of more than 100 mediators. It is authorized by the court system to hear the cases which must be mediated before a trial begins.

But the law has elevated the practice well beyond the ADR Center’s offices. The nation now has more than 500 providers, and thousands of trained mediators, and a growing commercial conflict resolution culture that deemphasizes court fights.

Awards dinner master of ceremonies and veteran attorney-neutral John Upchurch, president of sponsor Upchurch Watson (and no stranger to challenging traditional law firm and ADR provider roles and pioneering new ADR business models; see “With Conflicts at Issue, Florida Firm and Its Former Partners Restructure ADR—Again,” 15 Alternatives 131 (October 1997)), said in presenting the award to ADR Center that “Outstanding Practical Achievement [is] barely descriptive of the wonderful work done” by the Italian firm.

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The Kluwer Arbitration Blog, which can be found at http://kluwerarbitrationblog.com, received the CPR Award for outstanding electronic ADR media.

The blog, which opened for business in January 2009, covers hot arbitration cases and events, including settlements and new laws. It looks at developments worldwide.

Awards judge and dinner presenter David Burt, corporate counsel at E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. in Delaware, said, “It’s what the busy professional needs to stay the just-right amount of current.”

Notre Dame University Law School Prof. Roger P. Alford is the blog’s editor in chief, supervising 14 high-profile contributors. He accepted the CPR Award from Burt at the awards dinner.

The blog is published by Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, a big international publisher based in Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands. It has a sister blog that focuses on mediation at http://kluwermediationblog.com.

* * *

The Outstanding Book award recognizes a work that advances understanding in the ADR field, and went to Douglas E. Noll, author of “Elusive Peace: How Modern Diplomatic Strategies Could Better Resolve World Conflicts,” which was published last year by Prometheus Books in Amherst, N.Y.

Noll’s book says that diplomatic missions aimed at tamping down international conflicts are misguided and often poorly conceived. Despite the negotiation experience of top-level government officials and diplomats, Noll contends, more mediation techniques need to be integrated into processes at international bargaining tables.

The book’s thesis—demonstrated by examining numerous high-profile conflicts around the world along with a substantial dosage of neuroscience, decision-making processes, and tactics—is that “the modern science of mediation can aid in the possibility of transformation” and help establish peace. The title of Noll’s first chapter is thematic: “Eighteenth-Century Diplomacy Will Not Solve Twenty-First-Century Problems.”

“You chose a big subject—world peace,” said awards judge David Burt, from DuPont, addressing both the author and the audience at the awards dinner. He continued: “Anyone who believes that the big stick or even a carrot is a way to [achieve] peace in the 21st Century is in need of this [book]. Sticks and carrots and hard swaps aren’t going to bring a lasting peace.”

Burt said that author Noll is building solutions to conflict to bring about peace by “applying things we know how to do, like de-escalating the conflict, reframing [issues], etc.”

Burt said to Noll, “Congratulations on creating one of the most inventive teaching pieces ever about high-stakes mediation.”

* * *

Coming soon: Details on the 2011 CPR Professional and Student Article Award winners.


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