The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), Northeast Chapter recently concluded conciliation training for its members.Rendered under the auspices of the Sheldon W. Rothstein Memorial Mediation and Conciliation Program, ACC has provided pro bono mediation and conciliation services to the Woburn and Dedham District for 14 years.
Fifty attorneys participate in the court mediation/conciliation process. Most are employed as in-house counsel to corporations in the greater Boston area including such companies as Fidelity, Gillette, Analog Devices, and Liberty Mutual.
First Justice of the Dedham District Court Lynda Connolly provided welcoming remarks to the attorneys gathered for conciliation training. Judge Connolly expressed her appreciation for the program.
"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," Judge Connolly said. "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 resolution (ADR) promulgated by Supreme Judicial Court and scheduled to take effect in January 2005, the program sponsored four days of conciliation training. Rachel McCarthy, general counsel of Unica Corporation, noted: "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.
"We have certified over fifty volunteers as mediators and the quality of instruction by volunteer instructors is superb," said Program Director William Wise.The Rothstein Program, named for Sheldon Rothstein, a former senior counsel and director of the chapter, who was tragically killed in an airplane accident several years ago, 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," Mr. Wise said. Donal 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. Mr. Wise is looking for volunteers to initiate similar opportunities for in house counsels to serve in other district courts.