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Main | Still Waters: Finding Answers »
Tuesday
Sep262017

Hope

When we are caught in a conflict, at work, in an organization or in personal life, we can become consumed by it, or take negative actions that cause damage. Or, we can try something more positive.

This blog has included numerous entries about the value of conflict resolution and problem solving, early in the game. Others have written about and urged the idea for years. But the message feels new. It is not yet "the norm." It should be.

On September 25, 2017,  Virginia's legal community (Virginia Bar Association and Virginia State Bar Joint ADR Committee) held a day-long program to look at how to serve the interests of 21st century clients and solve their problems effectively.

Well-known attorneys, experienced, smart problem solvers, facilitators, and mediators spoke to the question from multiple perspectives. They shared concrete experiences. 

Looking into his crystal ball, law professor Sam Jackson of North Carolina (a former Virginia mediator and legal practitioner), summed up the third wave - hopefully the coming norm - as being early communication and early intervention to handle conflict the most effectively (including cost considerations) and productively.

First, we saw the coming of arbitration/mediation (ADR) laws in the later 20th century; next, we saw newer lawyer counselling rules in Virginia at the dawn of the 21st century. Now, fully in the midst of the conflict-laden 21st century, we have the clarion call for early intervention and dispute management practiced together by clients and lawyer alike.

A retired Virginia Supreme Court Justice, Hon. Leroy Millette, emphasized the need for lawyers to talk with their clients early to discern their real needs and interests and then craft advice based on such information. Well-known Virginia attorney, Jack ("JB") Burtch, reminded lawyers of the ethical rules that direct how Virginia lawyers should communicate with and counsel clients. He gave example after example from his practice of how chasing down the needs behind the positions ended up helping the client choose the correct strategy that at first blush might not have seemed the obviously correct one.

Lawyers talked about the connection with clients, especially organizations and other groups, and how the lawyer can work to encourage clients to embrace early conflict management skills.

Protocols, competence, coaching, counselling, carrying it forward - just think of all the good that will come of it.

(As a postscript, if you google AllthingsADR, you can pull up good information about yesterday's sponsoring committee and the agenda and speaker lineup.)

 

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