Letter from CPR President & CEO, Allen Waxman

Less Conflict. More Purpose.

To the CPR Community:

As we come to closure on this most unusual of years, I hope this note with my holiday greetings finds you and yours well.

In thinking about this year, I am reminded of a story about a teacher who delivered a pop quiz consisting of a piece of paper with a single, tiny red dot in the middle of it.  The teacher asked her students to write about what they saw.  After reviewing the responses, the teacher observed to a student that they had all written about the tiny, red dot. "But where is the commentary on the rest of the space?" she asked.    

So, 2020’s red dot might be more than tiny—particularly in light of the horrific loss of so many lives – but there is also something to embrace and learn from this year’s significant tribulations.  The separation we have all suffered has also spawned a newfound joy in the opportunity to see the faces of family, friends and colleagues over new platforms.  The persistence of this terrible virus has led us to even further appreciate the power of science and innovation in identifying new ways of mitigating its most severe impact through something as simple as wearing a mask to the discovery of novel treatments and the promise of transformative vaccines.  Finally, even in this most divisive of times, we are more engaged than ever (150 million plus voters), and I am hopeful more aware of the need to find solutions; even if we are often too entrenched and reluctant to acknowledge that the space around the dot holds a commonality of interests for us all. 

It is in that white space that our community operates and can continue to play such a central role.  I wrote to you earlier this year and in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, that the premise of our community is that conflict must breed resolution and resolution must reinforce our purpose.  And, our purpose remains to prevent and resolve disputes more effectively and efficiently.  I imagine we all can agree that there are more opportunities than ever to pursue our purpose. On this Thanksgiving, I want to acknowledge each of you for the roles you play, professionally and personally, in fulfilling our purpose.

Before I let you get back to your turkey or tofurky, let me just briefly review some of the things members and others in our community have been able to participate in under the leadership of CPR. 


Committee and Task Force Initiatives

  • Discussed funding trends for arbitration in one session with the Arbitration Committee, and the interplay between insolvency and arbitration in another.
  • Reviewed at one meeting of the Mediation Committee the findings of a multi-court study on the dissemination of information about courts’ dispute resolution programs and, in another meeting, observations on the impact of the unconscious mind on decision-making in mediation.
  • Assessed COVID-19 related employment claims through a panel of plaintiff, defense and in-house counsel with our Employment Disputes Committee.
  • Learned from the Executive Director of the International Ombudsman Association as well as Ombuds from the Federal Reserve at a Government & ADR Task Force
  • Discussed the process for mediating settlements in the Madoff bankruptcy matters and the application for other types of mass party disputes at the Banking and Financial Services Committee.
  • Convened under the leadership of the Construction Committee a roundtable of in-house counsel, law firm practitioners and other experts to review, among other things, how construction disputes are being addressed in the remote world.
  • Set aside an afternoon with the Healthcare and Life Sciences Committee and representatives from Pfizer, BMS, GSK, Roivant Sciences, Cabaletta Bio and other preeminent experts to discuss a variety of topics around dispute prevention and resolution in the industry.
  • Discussed with Homer LaRue and the Diversity and ADR Task Force the Ray Corollary Initiative™ for fostering diverse selection of neutrals.
  • Joined our partners at the IADC in presenting on how to move a case from trial court to arbitration.
  • Extended the boundaries of New York Arbitration Week with a discussion of ADR processes beyond arbitration.
  • Continued our innovative series on “conflicts in closed spaces” with a presentation on establishing healthy boundaries.


In the International Arena

  • We have hosted successfully two virtual international conferences: the CPR European Conference and the CPR Canada Conference.  We had very good programs and engagement at each. 
  • On December 2, we are hosting CPR’s LATAM Conference. Join us from wherever you sit for two days of various panels and topics with leaders in the field.  You can register for this remote, free of charge conference   We are thankful to Arbitration Place, which has offered pro-bono platform support for these conferences.


Rules and Procedures

We continue to work with task forces on a variety of rules and procedures that guide our innovative Dispute Resolution Services.  These exercises remain among the most highly engaging and meaningful activities for those participating. 

  • With oversight from the CPR Council, the Model Clause Task Force launched Fast Track Rules for Arbitration, Concurrent Mediation-Arbitration Clauses and Protocol, and a Model Clause for Allocating Responsibility for Determining Arbitrability, and the Dispute Preventions Committee launched Model Dispute Prevention and Resolution Provisions.
  • We are about to launch a diverse team of experts to review anew the Employment-Related Mass Claims Protocol and a Subcommittee of the Arbitration Committee to update the CPR Protocol on Exchange of Information and Presentation of Witnesses in Commercial Arbitration.


Your Continued Engagement

Please continue to engage with us through our committees, task forces, publications and other events.  Registration will soon open for our remote Annual Meeting, which will begin the afternoon of January 27th through the afternoon of January 29th.  The theme this year is Dispute Prevention, and we are putting together a dynamic program of speakers, panels, awards and other activities.  Thank you to all of those who already have signed up as sponsors for the event. 

In addition, I encourage all of you to sign on to CPR’s Diversity Pledge. The Pledge was spurred by CPR’s National Diversity Task Force and approved by CPR’s Board of Directors.  Its launch followed the Open Forum we held last June on racial and social justice issues.  Our constituents spoke so powerfully about the need to confront and move the needle on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion.  The Pledge seeks commitments from the law firm and corporate communities, and offers a commitment from CPR, to drive toward greater selection of diverse neutrals.  We believe that the Pledge represents an important step forward in better ensuring all the talent available is deployed for dispute resolution.  Please sign on or at least engage with and provide us feedback on these efforts.

Finally, I want to thank each and every one of you in our community.  From the members of our Board of Directors and CPR Council to the ADR leaders on our International Advisory Boards, Committees, and Task Forces, to the members of our panel of Distinguished Neutrals, to the participants in our events, to the donors to our mission to the incredibly dedicated staff that makes it all work – thank you.  Enjoy the white space the holidays have to offer, whether together or apart.  Stay safe and well.

 

With warmest regards,

Allen Waxman