We at MDRS are proud to announce a major leap forward in Massachusetts’s dispute resolution history; namely the MBA’s decision to move forward with plans to create a new Dispute Resolution (DR) Section. We are honored to have played a pivotal role in this decision through the leadership of our founder Brian R. Jerome who chaired the MBA’s Dispute Resolution Committee 2015/2016. MBA’s Dispute Resolution Committee was formed 20 years ago as a Standing Committee when ADR was in its early development in Massachusetts. Since then, ADR has arguably grown to become one of the most influential practice areas in law in the past 25 years. Over 97% of all cases presented reach settlement without trial, to the extent that dispute resolution (DR) is no longer the alternative, but is the primary mechanism of case management and resolution. Our founder, Brian R. Jerome served this year as chair of the MBA’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee and presided over a vote in January to pursue designation as a Section of the Massachusetts Bar Association. To reflect ADR’s increasing acceptance as a primary means of dispute resolution, the Committee also voted to rebrand the proposed MBA “ADR” Section to the Dispute Resolution Section.
In pursuing this designation, the existing MBA ADR Committee has crafted a mission statement that we believe reflects our hopes for DR’s continued positive influence in the Massachusetts Legal community. Our mission is as follows:
To promote the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) by educating members of the Massachusetts Bar Association, the Judiciary, the Legislature, the bar, and the general public about the nature and benefits of ADR processes and how to utilize them for the best possible resolution of conflicts.
We believe that a new Dispute Resolution Section will bring long-anticipated benefits on many fronts, not least to fulfill the promise of Massachusetts as one of the first states, along with California and New York, to adopt Dispute Resolution. Currently neither the BBA nor any other state or local bar association or professional association has a strong or fully-inclusive Massachusetts-based ADR or DR group. The MBA Committee's size, agenda, and goals have also significantly expanded since its inception. A Dispute Resolution Section will solve multiple problems of access and inclusiveness, providing extended membership to Dispute Resolution professionals, which will increase MBA membership due to the continued growth in number of ADR practitioners. With DR’s existing reach within the business community, in cases that tend to be settled without going to trial, the scope of outreach and the MBA’s relevance to an entire business sector would be increased by default. Then, with our increased membership, our ability to assist the judiciary in Court-connected ADR proposals, in presentations, networking events, open meetings, CLE's and/or other projects will be greatly increased. More members would allow us to provide more service and outreach to the audiences outlined in our Mission Statement, all to the benefit of the MBA and its mission of outreach and service.
Finally, we believe that DR Section Status is appropriate given our Mission statement, existing agenda and goals, and our organized effort. The MBA ADR Committee already actively participates in 8 to 10 monthly meetings yearly. We continue to plan and implement presentations, and other beneficial events within the MBA organization. We cannot wait to begin recruiting more members from an ever-expanding field of DR practitioners and users, giving us the opportunity to realize a more comprehensive vision of DR in Massachusetts and allowing us to step into the appropriate role as educators and facilitators within the ADR community and beyond. We hope to benefit all those professionals who could avail of the networking and
professional services that the MBA can offer, but also anyone who has been lacking easy access to education and assistance in the rapidly advancing and successful field of dispute resolution.