By Anna M. Hershenberg, Esq., Vice President, Programs and Public Policy, CPR
On April 10, 2018, the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (“CPR”) held its first Philadelphia regional meeting at the offices of Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, LLP, a long-standing CPR member and first recipient, more than a decade ago, of CPR’s “Law Firm Award for Excellence in Alternative Dispute Resolution” for the firm’s commitment to principled and creative conflict management and resolution.
The meeting drew more than 130 people, with the attendees split evenly between in-house counsel from Fortune 500 companies, trial attorneys from the nation’s top law firms, and highly sought-after neutrals. The prominent attendees included 15 former judges and general counsels and chief legal officers from Aetna Inc., Comcast Corp., Deloitte, General Motors Corp., GlaxoSmithKline, Hewlett-Packard Co., Independence Blue Cross, Johnson & Johnson, KPMG LLP, Merck & Co., Monsanto Co., Pfizer Inc., TE Connectivity Ltd., Triumph Group. Inc., and Verizon Communications Inc., among others.
The program, “Effective Mediation Strategies for Client and Counsel,” was divided into three parts. Bennett G. Picker, Senior Counsel at Stradley Ronon, CPR neutral and member of CPR’s Council, and Noah Hanft, President and CEO of CPR, kicked off the meeting with welcoming remarks.
Wharton School lecturer and mediation trainer Eric Max then lead the first part of the program, “Negotiating Strategies for Clients and Counsel,” by facilitating an interactive discussion among the in-house counsel, outside counsel and mediator audience members. Professor Max outlined the multiple layers of negotiation occurring at any given time during a mediation. He challenged the audience with provocative questions, such as pressing each stakeholder to reveal if they lie to each other during the course of a mediation and exploring the reasons for their conduct.
After a networking coffee break, the program resumed with Sophia Lee, Partner at Blank Rome and former Chief Litigation Counsel at Sunoco Inc., skillfully moderating a panel discussion on the keys to effective preparation and advocacy with panelists Francine Friedman Griesing, Managing Member of Griesing Law; Scott S. Partridge, Vice President of Global Strategy at Monsanto and a member of CPR’s Board of Directors; and John Wright, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Triumph Group. Of particular interest to the attendees was Mr. Partridge’s explanation of how he created a relationship-based conflict identification and resolution process to shrink Monsanto’s – and then the entire industry’s – litigation portfolio.
The highlight of evening came when the Honorable Timothy K. Lewis (Ret.), Counsel at Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP, former federal circuit and district court judge and Chair of CPR’s Diversity Task Force, and Mr. Picker led the third part of the program, “Promoting Diversity in Mediation.” Mr. Picker – who has been championing diversity and leading by example for decades – provided concrete steps that in-house counsel, outside counsel and mediators can take to drive diversity and inclusion in the dispute resolution field. Judge Lewis then delivered deeply moving and personal remarks on his experiences as a black attorney and federal court judge in a predominately white legal world. He challenged the audience to mentor colleagues from historically disadvantaged backgrounds, reminding them that that everyone got to where they are by standing on someone else’s shoulders, and “that talent is distributed equally across all races and ethnicities and genders and identities. Opportunity is not.”
He set out his vision for what true workplace inclusion should look like and how to achieve it: “The goal here is not to be included simply because of race or gender; the goal is not to be excluded simply because of these qualities. But in order for us to get there, we have to make a concerted effort, and we must challenge ourselves, our assumptions, and sometimes each other.” Judge Lewis’s remarks, which received a standing ovation, will appear in Alternatives to the High Cost of Litigation, CPR’s monthly international newsletter (see altnewsletter.com).
Pictured: Bennett G. Picker and Honorable Timothy K. Lewis (Ret.)
The evening concluded with closing remarks by Thomas J. Sabatino, Jr., CPR Board Vice Chair and Senior Vice President, General Counsel, Law & Regulatory Affairs at Aetna and a networking cocktail reception.
In short, the CPR Philadelphia Regional Meeting introduced attendees to what CPR does best: create opportunities for high-level conversations between inside and outside counsel and providing businesses with the tools to cultivate a corporate culture that embraces diversity of perspective, and early and creative ways to prevent and resolve business disputes.
CPR is an independent nonprofit organization that, for more than 40 years, has helped global businesses prevent and resolve commercial disputes effectively and efficiently. CPR’s membership consists of top corporations and law firms, academic and government institutions, and leading mediators and arbitrators around the world. CPR is unique as: (1) a thought leader, driving a global dispute resolution culture; (2) a developer of cutting-edge tools and resources, powered by the collective innovation of its membership; and (3) an ADR provider offering innovative, practical arbitration rules, mediation and other dispute resolution procedures, and neutrals worldwide. For more information, please visit www.cpradr.org.
About Stradley Ronon
Stradley Ronon attorneys have served with distinction as neutrals, both independently and under the auspices of ADR provider organizations such as the American Arbitration Association, the International Centre for Dispute Resolution, and the International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution (CPR). Stradley Ronon attorneys have built a reputation for fairness and creative problem solving and are highly regarded for their ability to understand complex commercial transactions and cutting-edge technologies. In recognition of its commitment to principled and creative conflict-management and resolution, Stradley Ronon’s ADR practice group received CPR’s inaugural Law Firm Award for Excellence in Alternative Dispute Resolution. For more information, please visit https://www.stradley.com/