CPR Tribute to Peter Kaskell


By Russ Bleemer

Longtime CPR Institute senior vice president Peter F. Kaskell, who spearheaded the translation of seminal commercial ADR theories into everyday dispute management processes, died Dec. 11 at 94. He lived in West Redding, Conn.

Kaskell joined the CPR Institute in 1983, soon after it was founded, following a lengthy legal career, mostly in-house.  He devoted two decades at the New York nonprofit to devising ADR procedures and leading initiatives that produced still-vital versions ADR tools.

“Peter paved the way for CPR Institute’s committees and task forces continued work on identifying better ways to resolve legal conflict,” said CPR President and Chief Executive Allen Waxman, “producing first-generation, fundamental processes in prominent areas including arbitration.”

Kaskell is best known later in his career for co-editing with Thomas J. Stipanowich, who headed the CPR Institute from 2000 to 2005, an often-cited best practices treatise, Commercial Arbitration at Its Best, a 2001 volume published with the American Bar Association.

But well before the treatise, Kaskell was an organizing force for the CPR Institute.  He set up what became a prototype for CPR Institute annual meetings, establishing cutting-edge agendas and recruiting and moderating numerous panels.

He led committee work that produced key CPR Institute Model ADR Practices and Procedures, for which Kaskell did the bulk of the writing and editing.

The first of his significant works was an analysis of the workings of the minitrial, which brought an informal way of assessing a case into a structured toolbox process for addressing and diffusing litigation.  A minitrial consists of an adversarial information exchange, followed by management negotiations directed to settling a dispute before a full-blown legal proceeding in a public court.

Kaskell wrote the minitrial rules, which were reviewed by an ad hoc committee assembled by the CPR Institute—then, the Center for Public Resources—before they were offered for adaptation to legal conflicts.

They were unprecedented–“the first model rules for minitrials and . . . designed to be flexible enough to be adopted by virtually any company contemplating submitting a dispute to minitrial for resolution.” Model Mini-Trial Agreement for Business Disputes, 3 (5) Alternatives 1 (May 1985) (available at http://bit.ly/2sDJo9k).

Kaskell returned to the subject of minitrials at CPR events and meetings.  The procedure, which was updated and supplemented twice over the years, is still used: You can read the full minitrial procedure and commentary at CPR Institute’s website at http://bit.ly/2sDJo9k.

Even more significantly, CPR’s arbitration rules began on Peter Kaskell’s desk.  When the CPR Institute first looked at arbitration in the 1980s, it saw the process as another independent means for lawyers to assist parties in resolving disputes without courts that could be used more effectively and frequently.  The CPR Institute conceived of arbitration as a nonadministered process run by the attorneys and tribunal as part of the practice of law.

Organization founder James H. Henry tasked Kaskell with heading what has become one of CPR’s longest-running committee projects.  Overseeing the Center for Public Resources’ Committee on Private Adjudication, Kaskell led a blue-ribbon commission in producing the organizations’ first set of arbitration rules in 1989.  The debut constituted a special supplement in the September 1989 issue of Alternatives, and can be found at http://bit.ly/2PD8crc.

Thirty years’ of subsequent history of the CPR Institute Arbitration Committee and rules, both nonadministered and, in this decade, administered rules, most of which included Kaskell’s input, can be surveyed at CPR’s website at www.cpradr.org/resource-center/rules/arbitration.

There were other areas that caught Kaskell’s attention and to which he contributed to making alternative dispute resolution standard practices. For example, in the environmental area, he was staff director in 1985 of a committee that produced the Superfund Multi-Party Site Cost Allocation Procedure. He led as staff director the CPR Institute’s first international committee efforts, as well as antitrust, insurance and technology committee initiatives.

Kaskell was both an expert in and fascinated by the workings of the corporate law department.  Before joining the CPR Institute as a vice president, he spent 27 years at Olin Corp., a Clayton, Mo., publicly traded chemical company.

In the 1990s, with CPR Institute Vice President Catherine Cronin-Harris, Kaskell conducted a study of in-house attorneys’ views of alternative dispute resolution.  The work charted the increasing awareness through the 1990s of the availability and efficacy of ADR.

The 1997 version of the study found, among other things, that nearly 17% of all cases in the in-house respondents’ portfolios used ADR process, more than double from just four years earlier.  See Catherine Cronin‐Harris and Peter H. Kaskell, “How ADR finds a home in corporate law departments,” 15 Alternatives 158 (December 1997) (available at http://bit.ly/2rZZ4Un).

Later, as a senior fellow at the CPR Institute, Kaskell focused on intellectual property issues.  See Peter H. Kaskell, “Is Your Infringement Dispute Suitable for Mediation?” 20 Alternatives 45 (March 2002) (available at http://bit.ly/2sL6QRV).

Kaskell was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1924, and came to the United States as a child.  He grew up in New York and completed his undergraduate work and his law degree at Columbia University.

He interrupted his Columbia education to enlist and serve in World War II, where he was a war hero.  For details on Kaskell’s wartime efforts, see Jeannette Ross, “Wilton loses war hero Peter Kaskell,” Ridgefield (Conn.) Bulletin (Dec. 17) (available at http://bit.ly/2S6SJRz).

Kaskell was a former trustee of the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Conn., and served as vice chairman of Connecticut Humanities.

On behalf of CPR, Waxman extends condolences to Kaskell’s wife, Joan Kaskell, who was a frequent presence at CPR Institute events over the years, and his four children and their families.


In Memoriam: CPR Chairman Emeritus Charles Renfrew

By Russ Bleemer

The International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Dispute Resolution mourns the loss of Chairman Emeritus Charles B. Renfrew (pictured above), who died in San Francisco on Dec. 14 at age 89.

Renfrew had served nearly 15 years as board chairman when he stepped down from the post in 2011. He remained active with the organization and continued his longtime private practice focusing on mediation and arbitration, as well as corporate investigations.

He also had experience in a wide variety of specialized alternative dispute resolution processes, including early neutral evaluation and mini-trials, and acted as a special master.

“It is difficult to imagine a more impressive career than that of Charlie Renfrew,” said CPR President & CEO, Noah J. Hanft. “His commitment to public service was apparent to all who knew him, as was his commitment to the CPR Institute. CPR was indeed fortunate to have Charlie serve as its Chair for 15 years, and for far longer than that he was a clear and strong voice articulating the importance of CPR’s mission—continually seeking better ways to prevent and resolve disputes. Charlie was both a man of substance and a man of character with a warmth and kindness which was evident to all who knew him.  I will never forget that he was the first person to reach out to me after I was named CEO and his warm, supportive messages from that day forward. Charlie was a true gentleman and we will all miss him.”

Renfrew’s ADR work began during a storybook legal career that included private practice, in-house corporate representation and advocacy, the federal judiciary, and the U.S. Justice Department, as well as social activism.

A veteran who served both in the U.S. Navy in World War II and in the U.S. Army during the Korean conflict, Renfrew began his legal career at San Francisco’s Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro in 1956, becoming partner a decade later.

He departed the firm when President Richard Nixon appointed him to the U.S. District Court in California’s Northern District in 1972, where he stayed until President Jimmy Carter appointed Renfrew Assistant Attorney General under Benjamin Civiletti in 1980.

But when Carter was defeated by Ronald Reagan later the same year, Renfrew returned to Pillsbury.  After a two-year stint, he became Vice President of Legal Affairs for Chevron Inc., where, in 1988, he joined CPR’s board in 1988.

In 1993, Renfrew returned again to private practice as a partner at LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MaCrae after retiring from Chevron.

After four years, he opened the Law Offices of Charles B. Renfrew in San Francisco, which became the longest-running job in his career, focusing on alternative dispute resolution.

In addition to his work at CPR, Renfrew served on the boards of Princeton University, Claremont University Center, the San Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and the Council for Civic Unity. He also served as a director at Chevron.

Renfrew was active in bar associations and taught at Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California at Berkeley. He graduated with a BA from Princeton University, and from the University of Michigan Law School.

Renfrew was known for an unusual approach on the bench in the criminal cases he oversaw on the federal bench.  After sentencing, the judge would follow up on the convict’s service, and occasionally would visit the institutions to check on their rehabilitation progress.

Renfrew notably ordered specific sentences for community service as part of the condition of offenders’ release, to encourage reflection by the convict, and lower the odds of recidivism.  See Bob Egelko, “Charles Renfrew dies; Democrat appointed SF federal judge by Nixon,” San Francisco Chronicle (Dec. 26)(available at http://bit.ly/2m0ZbI7), and Carol Spiezio, Charles Renfrew, Former Federal Judge, Dies at 89,” The Recorder (Dec. 19)(available at http://bit.ly/2CGt7jQ).

Throughout his career, Renfrew spoke and wrote often about his deep faith in the effectiveness of alternative dispute resolution, and his expectations for its continued growth.  He frequently cited mediation and arbitration’s success as the core reason for his decades of work at the CPR Institute.

Renfrew was nearly evangelical at CPR meetings and in articles in his focus on developing ADR, and creating opportunities for its growth and improvement. During his years on the CPR board, he spearheaded the organization’s emphasis on international work, and measures to prevent conflicts, among numerous other conflict resolution efforts.

In a 2009 Alternatives article reflecting on CPR’s 30th anniversary, Renfrew, with his characteristic optimism about conflict resolution, and also characteristically looking ahead, concluded,

The future for the CPR Institute is promising, too, if we continue to build on our strengths and uniqueness. We must continue to involve the users of ADR services, not just be an organization of ADR providers. If CPR continues to be supported by those who recognize its unique role in the ADR movement, it will continue to flourish and perform the leadership role it has since its inception.

Renfrew is survived by his wife, Barbara Jones Renfrew, who often joined her husband at CPR Annual Meetings and events, as well as eight children, 21 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A memorial service was held in San Francisco on Jan. 6.  The family suggested donations in his name to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, where he also served as a board member.


*Russ Bleemer is the editor of CPR’s award-winning magazine, Alternatives