Microsoft mediator Eric Green speaks on ADR

BY ELENA VOSS

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Last week nearly eighty students and guests gathered to hear Professor Eric Green and mediator Sarah Worley speak about careers in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) for a panel sponsored by the Harvard Mediation Program and the Office of Student Life Counseling. Green and Worley described how they first entered the field, shared some of their day-to-day experiences as dispute resolution practitioners and provided advice to HLS students interested in pursuing careers in ADR.

Green, HLS ’72, explained that he first began mediating before the term “alternative dispute resolution” existed. He had been working as a litigator when he and his opposing counsel, trying to find a better way to resolve a complicated dispute, developed the first-ever “mini-trial,” an abbreviated mock jury trial used as a basis for settlement negotiations. Green went on to become a professor at Boston University School of Law and founded two ADR firms, JAMS/Endispute and Resolutions, LLC. Green has served as mediator for a number of high-profile cases including the Microsoft and Enron/Arthur Anderson suits.

Worley also got her start as a litigator, working in premises liability, personal injury and products liability. She explained that she decided to quit litigating “cold turkey” and was able to build a practice in mediation and arbitration through networking and reputation that blossomed into a full-time practice of more than 400 cases a year. Worley now works at Pre-Trial Solutions, Inc., mediating and arbitrating a variety of cases ranging from personal injury to sexual abuse.

Lukasz Rozdeiczer, an Outside Training Director for the Harvard Mediation Program, said he was “amazed at the spectrum of cases” the panelists handled, calling Worley’s caseload “impressive.” Warda Henning, LL.M., remarked that she found the panelists’ “sincerity with regard to their professional as well as personal decisions they had made in their careers especially valuable.”

Green described some of the techniques he uses when serving as a mediator, stressing the importance of “shuttle diplomacy” and private sessions with each side of a dispute in moving toward settlement. According to Worley, ultimate success as a professional mediator depends on an ability to get cases settled. Worley cautioned that the hours in ADR practice can be grueling, since a mediator or arbitrator cannot leave for the day until the parties have finished, and may need to continue monitoring the progress of settlement discussions after a formal mediation session has ended. Both panelists agreed that pursuing a career in ADR can be a risky venture, but also noted that the satisfaction of working in ADR can be well worth the risk. Green stated that he felt very fortunate to be in a position where he can choose the types of cases he mediates.

Two-L Kathie Soroka stated that she felt “really privileged to get inside information” from the panelists. “They were really straightforward and forthcoming about practice in the field and the highlights and challenges of the work they do,” she said. “Having practitioners elaborate on the particularities of their practice was really enlightening.”

Worley advised that students interested in ADR start out by developing litigation experience in a particular specialty. Green agreed that expertise in a particular field can enhance success in developing an ADR practice, but believes that such expertise need not be in litigation.

One -L Chad Carr remarked that the panelists “were both very enjoyable and well-spoken. I’ve been to several career panels, and this was the first one where someone said that they would pay for the opportunity to do their job.”

A streaming video of the panel will be available soon on the Harvard Mediation Program website, here.

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