Panel of Neutrals

James E. Purcell

Military: Graduated Infantry Officer Candidate School (12/68) and commissioned 2d lieutenant; completed Airborne training (2/69) and Pathfinder training (7/69); assigned to 101st Airborne Division Pathfinder team in Viet Nam (I Corps) (8/69-1/70); wounded and medevac’d stateside; after recovery, served as company commander for intelligence school unit until 2/71.

Law School: Attended Boston University Law School (1971-74), graduating magna cum laude in 1974; ranked second in class cumulatively; editor of Boston University Law Review; awarded John Ordroneaux Award for The Best All Around Professional Ability in the Class of 1974.

LEGAL EXPERIENCE: Associate at Pierce, Atwood Scribner, Allen, Smith & Lancaster, Portland, ME from 1974-1979

Associate and Partner at Tillinghast Collins & Graham, Providence, RI, from 1980-1988

Founding Partner, Chair of Litigation Department, and first Managing Partner of Partridge Snow & Hahn LLP, Providence, RI, from 1988-2000

Senior Counsel, Partridge Snow & Hahn LLP, January 1, 2012-December 1, 2012

Independent facilitator, mediator, and arbitrator: December 1, 2012 to date. During my career, I spent over 25 years of my professional career as a litigator. Virtually all of my work was in litigation—the resolution of complex business and other disputes. These ranged from financial and anti-trust cases to major construction and long term natural gas pricing contractual disputes to significant business tort and contract cases. My practice evolved over time such that, toward the end, at least 50% of my work was in arbitration and mediation.

NON-LEGAL EXPERIENCE: In 2000, I left my firm to be COO of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of RI, and in 2004, became its President and CEO until December 31, 2011, when I retired.

ADR EXPERIENCE: I am experienced in varied negotiation contexts as lawyer and as COO/CEO. In the mid-1990’s, I was part of the first certified ADR panel for the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island. We received very thorough training, and thereafter, I conducted Early Neutral Evaluations and mediations under the auspices of the Federal District Court. In 1998, Chief Justice Torres (Federal Court) appointed me arbitrator to resolve the final dispute between the two developers of the Providence Place Mall. After two weeks of hearings, I issued an opinion resolving the complex construction and contractual issues. After retirement from Blue Cross, I have mediated and arbitrated a number of complex commercial cases, including healthcare, insurance, construction and contract disputes.

I have a combination of legal and business experience together with a personality that lends itself to alternative dispute resolution. I believe the same skills can be applied to “facilitation,” by which I mean, assisting parties who are negotiating complex contracts or renewals to reach resolution, particularly in healthcare negotiations.

OTHER PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE AND ASSOCIATIONS: I am a member of the American Arbitration Association’s (AAA) Commercial and National Healthcare Rosters, its Commercial Mediation Roster, and a former member of its Healthcare Dispute Resolution Advisory Council. I also am a member of the American Health Lawyer’s Association (AHLA) ADR Panel and its ACO Task Force. I am a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association ADR Committee and the ABA Dispute Resolution Section. I have been a guest speaker for the national Blue Cross Association legal counsel summit, the World Health Care Congress, the AAA, and the AHLA regarding healthcare policy, reform, ACOs and the merits of alternative dispute resolution in payor-provider and other healthcare disputes. I have had many other speaking and writing engagements on healthcare and ADR.

I currently serve on the Boards of HopeHealth, Inc., Hyannis, MA, Southeast New England’s largest nonprofit hospice, palliative and home care organization, and Cape Abilities, Inc., also headquarted in Hyannis, which serves, educates and employs adults with disabilities.

Practice Areas

Civil Litigation, Commercial / Business, Health Care, Insurance, Malpractice / Negligence, Premises Liability, Real Estate / Land Use


  • Cornell University (1967)
    AB History
    Cornell Baseball all four years
    Captain of Freshman team (1964)
    CaptainVarsity team (1967)
    MVP (1966)

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Arbitration Association’s (AAA)
  • American Health Lawyer’s Association (AHLA)
  • Massachusetts Bar Association ADR Committee