ADR Committee Meeting Minutes
March 6, 2003
Harwi and Welge provided the Committee members with an overview of the all-day meeting they attended on Feb. 21, at the Penn State Dickinson Law School, Carlisle, PA, for the purpose of exploring the feasibility of launching a Pennsylvania-wide effort to promote ADR (in general) and mediation (specifically). The meeting had been called because the leadership of the Pennsylvania Council of Mediators and the ADR Committees of the Philadelphia, Allegheny and Pennsylvania Bar Associations believe that the time is now ripe for such an effort due to the combination of a new Governor and his administration, together with a new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, both apparently supportive of ADR. Those in attendance were drawn primarily from these groups. They learned how this type of initiative had been successfully launched in Maryland a few years ago, and utilized representatives of the organization that grew out of this initiative to facilitate discussions about how to proceed in Pennsylvania. Several cautionary notes were expressed, including the concern that differing interests of those at the meeting might be an obstacle to unifying in order to take the immediate action necessary to seize this opportunity.
The Committee discussed its continued participation in this project and concluded that its representatives (Messrs. Harwi and Rosenstein) should continue to do so, but without committing the Philadelphia Bar Association or this Committee in any way until the necessary approvals are sought and obtained. There appears to be an opportunity for mutual benefit here, but the Committee should not be precluded from taking any actions needed to promote alternative dispute resolution locally. Some of the suggestions for local action included: seeking moral and financial support from sources such as the corporate community, Delvacca, AAA, CPR, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Hewlett Foundation and businesses and law firms which have taken the CPR pledge, as well as looking for state support such as in-kind services and public statements from high visibility members of the Administration and Judiciary.
The Committee then discussed the need for a clear statement of our goals in the promotional process - a message that will resonate with the different audiences we are trying to reach, including both leaders of the private sector and all three branches of state and local government. It was also suggested that information be collected regarding what is happening in other counties to advance ADR.
My Harwi then gave a report on the status of the Committee�s comments on proposed Local Rule of Civil Procedure 53.3, and the related Mediation Protocol, both recently promulgated by the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. It was explained that Judges DuBois and Robreno requested that the Committee�s comments be presented informally, which will be done by representatives of the Bar Association�s Federal Courts and ADR Committees on March 7.
A discussion then ensued regarding the request that this Committee work with the Business Litigation Committee to provide brief training to judges pro tem of the Commerce Court. There was a reluctance among Committee members to provide superficial training for neutrals to facilitate a process that might be confused with true mediation. Although no formal vote was taken, there seemed to be general agreement that the Committee could play a constructive role if we were to point out during the training how this process and the role of the judges pro tem differ respectively from true mediation and the role of true mediators. There was then a brief discussion the need for wide-spread education of the bar and judiciary regarding what mediation is all about.