The Northeast Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel recently concluded conciliation training for its members.
ACC has provided pro bono mediation and conciliation services to the Woburn and Dedham District Courts in Massachusetts for 14 years under the auspices of the Sheldon W. Rothstein Memorial Mediation and Conciliation Program. 50 attorneys participate in the court mediation/conciliation process. Most are employed as in-house counsel to corporations in the greater Boston area, including Fidelity, Gillette, Analog Devices, and Liberty Mutual.
Dedham, Mass. District Court First Justice Lynda Connolly provided welcoming remarks to the attorneys gathered for the conciliation training.
“The Sheldon W. Rothstein Mediation and Conciliation Program provides an invaluable service to our courts in helping us keep pace with our busy civil dockets,” said Connolly, who was recently selected chief justice of the District Court Department in Massachusetts. “The professionalism of the participants enhanced by their experience and training, helps to streamline the litigation process for both represented and pro se litigants. We are grateful to the individuals who serve as mediators for their time and efforts on behalf of our system of justice.”
Responding to new rules for providers of Alternative Dispute Resolutions (ADR) promulgated by Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, scheduled to take effect in January 2005, the program sponsored four days of conciliation training.
Rachel T. McCarthy, general counsel of Waltham, Mass.-based Unica Corporation, said, “The training focused not only on the basic methods of conciliation, but included real life examples of tough issues a conciliator might encounter. This program does a great service by providing high quality training free of charge, and significantly increasing the number of in house counsel participating in pro bono alternative dispute resolution services.”
The Rothstein Program provides both mediation and conciliation training free of charge to all volunteers in the program. The Rothstein Program was named for Sheldon Rothstein, a former senior counsel and director of the Northeast Chapter, who was tragically killed in an airplane accident several years ago.
“We have certified over 50 volunteers as mediators and the quality of instruction by volunteer instructors is superb,” says Program Director William A. Wise Jr., noting that the program maintains a high degree of enthusiasm among volunteers.
“What makes this program so strong and effective is the commitment by our members to make a difference in our judicial system” said Wise, corporate counsel at Analog Devices, Inc. in Norwood, Mass.
Donald B. Tobin, chief patent counsel for The Gillette Companies and an original member of the program added, “I am deeply committed to participating in this program. Helping to resolve the legal disputes that can so disrupt the lives of our fellow citizens is a lawyer’s highest calling. I can think of no better way for a corporate lawyer to serve pro bono publico.”
The program in Dedham and Woburn serves as a prime example of how to provide a free and effective ADR service to others. Wise said he is looking for volunteers to initiate similar opportunities for in-house counsel to serve in other district courts in Massachusetts. “Providing mediation and or conciliation services to the district court is a win-win for the court and the volunteer attorney. The in-house counsel brings to the effort unique experiences as a business lawyer that translates into a high success rate of resolutions of disputes,” Wise said.