Committee Chair Corner: Michael Airdo

June 1, 2020 09:18 AM
Michael A. Airdo

Committee Chair Corner - Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee
Michael A. Airdo
Kopon Airdo LLC

“The courts of this country should not be the places where resolution of disputes begins. They should be the places where the disputes end after alternative methods of resolving disputes have been considered and tried.”
                                                             --Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

As the International Association of Defense Counsel celebrates its Centennial year, it is fitting to recognize those individuals who have helped form what the IADC is today. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor certainly is one of those important figures. Appointed in 1981, Justice O’Connor was the first woman to serve as a Supreme Court Justice. After she retired from the Court, Justice O’Connor has devoted much of her efforts to ensuring that children are educated in becoming engaged citizens in the American democracy. In 2009, O’Connor founded  iCivics, the education nonprofit to teach civics to elementary and secondary school students through the use of digital games and curricula. The IADC, through its Foundation, has supported iCivics since its inception. Recognizing her tremendous contributions to the rule of law, in February, 2010, Justice O’Connor was the Foundation’s Forum Speaker at the IADC’s Midyear Meeting in Naples, Florida. Because of Justice O’Connor and the relationship she has had with the Association, the IADC joined with other foundations to contribute more than $1 million in donations to establish the “Sandra Day O’Connor Legacy Fund” to support—in perpetuity—iCivics’ mission to educate youth to be engaged citizens.

As the Chair of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) Committee, it is an honor to look to Justice O’Connor’s insight and share her wisdom on resolving disputes outside of the courthouse. O’Connor advises those of us who advocate for our clients to come to the courthouse with our cases only after we attempt to resolve our disputes through “alternative methods.” The ADR Committee exists so that members can do just that—reach resolution on matters out of court. The ADR Committee focuses on the many varied ways to do so. It is a Committee for IADC members who use mediation and arbitration to settle cases and come to terms on legal disagreements. It is for those members who have become mediators or arbitrators in their own practices. The Committee assists corporate counsel and insurance executives in offering expertise when negotiating and drafting ADR provisions and on the effective use of ADR. It also assists lawyers who serve as defense advocates in the ADR process. 

As Ken Meyer, the Defense Counsel Journal Editor, noted in his recent “Committee Chair Corner,” the IADC will be publishing two special Centennial year editions of the DCJ. One of these editions will be a tribute to Justice O’Connor. Special thanks to ADR Vice Chair Kevin Truxillo and Committee Members Mitchell L. Lathrop and Daniela Karollus-Bruner for authoring an article for this special edition entitled, “The Arbitration Legacy of Sandra Day O’Connor.”

On April 24, 2020, the IADC announced its strategic, two-year cross-promotional partnership with the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR), a global non-profit organization that advances dispute prevention and resolution practices and provides high quality solutions. With this partnership, IADC members have access to the CPR’s resources and publications, along with preferential rates for CPR membership and attendance at CPR events.  With the great efforts of Henry T. Morrissette, the Chair of the In-House and Law Firm Management Committee, the ADR Committee co-sponsored a successful Webinar on May 15, 2020, “Resolving Legal Disputes in the Era of COVID-19.” This was the first of what will hopefully be many joint programs between the IADC and CPR. This Webinar featured our President-Elect, Andrew Chamberlin, who joined with Allen Waxman, the President and CEO of CPR, and CPR Neutrals Michele Riley and Gilda Turitz. These lawyers offered insights on resolving cases through ADR now, during this worldwide pandemic, when the courts are closed and juries are not being empaneled.

The ADR Committee was the first IADC Committee to “go virtual” before all of us were forced to do so by COVID-19. The ADR Committee, through the good work of Vice Chair Mike Crowley, was part of another inaugural event that took place on September 27, 2019. The South American Regional Meeting was held jointly in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Miami, Florida, through cyberspace. The program brought together three panels of legal experts. There were two panels in Sao Paulo and one panel in Miami who came together virtually to share on ADR topics with audiences in both geographic locales. Board Member Spencer H. Silverglate assembled an extraordinary team who put on this outstanding CLE.

As I come to the end of my term as Chair of ADR, I wish to thank Immediate Past President Craig Thompson for the opportunity to serve the IADC in this role, President Amy Sherry Fischer for keeping me on, and my law partner and friend, Andy Kopon, who imparted his devotion of this Association onto me. As every Chair knows, a Committee functions because of the tireless work of the Vice Chairs. I was pleased to work with the best:

W. Jason Rankin  -  Vice Chair of Programs

Kevin Truxillo  -  Vice Chair of Publications

Katie T. Powell  -  Vice Chair of Membership

Donna L. Burden  -  Vice Chair of Webinars

Michael J. Crowley  -  Vice Chair of Special Projects

William D. Deveau  -  Vice Chair of Communications

Paula A. Koczan  -  Vice Chair of Diversity

Kurt B. Gerstner  -  Vice Chair of International

Albert C. Hilber  -  Vice Chair of Insurance Executives

All of us were assisted by Donna Lamontagne, herself a former ADR Chair, as our Board Liaison. Donna devoted countless hours to ensuring that the ADR Committee is the best it can be.

I look forward to being a member of the ADR Committee under the leadership of Jason Rankin, where this Committee will continue to serve as a forum for members to learn about how to “consider” and “try” resolving disputes before heading to court, as Justice O’Connor advises us to do.

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