Michael Airdo

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

“Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser — in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.”
--Abraham Lincoln

As a lawyer from Illinois, I am fortunate to be able to quote one of the best attorneys to come from this great state, Abraham Lincoln. Approximately 15 years prior to that dreadful night at Ford’s Theatre, Lincoln wrote these “Words for a Law Lecture” while still practicing law in Illinois. History does not record whether he ever delivered the lecture. And these words are certainly not as historical, eloquent, or motivating as his later Gettysburg or Second Inaugural Addresses; yet, they provide insight into the man and his perspective about how lawyers should counsel their clients. His opinions bear great relevance for the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Committee that I am honored to Chair. I am indebted to Craig Thompson, our President, for appointing me to this role and to those Chairs who came before me and established a solid foundation. Lincoln the Lawyer instructs us in the notion that litigation should be a last resort for our clients, and that it is our duty as lawyers to convey that message. He teaches that “compromise”—settlement—is often the winning choice, even when there may be sure victory at trial.  But, Honest Abe recognizes that, even with all the good advice we may give our clients, “[t]here will still be business enough.”

ADR is a way for each of our clients to resolve their disputes outside of the normal litigation channels. The ADR Committee focuses on those many varied ways. It is a Committee for IADC members who use mediation and arbitration to resolve disputes, or who have become mediators or arbitrators in their own practices. We assist 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. 

There are outstanding IADC members who serve in the Vice Chair roles of the ADR Committee. They are:

Michael J. Crowley - Vice Chair of Programs and Projects
Paula A. Koczan - Vice Chair of Publications
Katie T. Powell - Vice Chair of Membership
Donna L. Burden  - Vice Chair of Webinar
W. Jason Rankin - Vice Chair of Communications
Eliana B. Baraldi - Vice Chair of Diversity
Kurt B. Gerstner - Vice Chair of International
Albert C. Hilber - Vice Chair of Insurance Executives

You will find this outstanding crew of Vice Chairs, along with many other members of the ADR Committee, on our monthly calls held on the first Thursday of the month at 2:00 p.m. Central. All are invited to participate. We are assisted in many ways by Deborah Cole, the Board Liaison, who devotes countless hours to ensuring our Committee runs efficiently and effectively.

I am pleased to be writing this article from sunny Santa Barbara, California, at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, where the IADC Midyear Meeting is being held. Craig and Deborah St. Lawrence Thompson, along with their Convention Chairs, Jon and Michelle Hernandez, have created a first-class meeting for the many attendees. Although this is the first the IADC has held a conference in this location, I’m hopeful it will not be the last. The ADR Committee was proud to co-sponsor the major CLE at this meeting, “Can Freud Help? The Interplay of Psychology and Negotiations Strategy.” This program was fascinating in that it looked at how the “human aspect” of negotiation in trying to resolve a dispute cannot be ignored.

The ADR Committee is also excited to be part of an inaugural event to be held on September 27, 2019. The South American Regional Meeting will be held jointly in Sao Paulo, Brazil and Miami, Florida. It will be an afternoon program where three panels will focus on ADR topics of interest to both American and international members, alike. There will be two panels in Sao Paulo, at the beautiful new AASP Facility, and one panel in Miami, at the recently renovated AAA offices. Board Member Spencer H. Silverglate has assembled an extraordinary planning team who is putting the finishing touches on what is certain to be a fascinating focus on ADR.  Keep a lookout for more information on this program to arrive in your inboxes soon.

I look forward to welcoming you back if you have been a member of the ADR Committee and haven’t been able to participate. And, I welcome any IADC members who are not already part of this great Committee who want to learn more about Lincoln’s notion of “compromise.” We will see you all in Asheville, North Carolina, in July at the Omni Grove Park Inn where we celebrate our 99 years as the premier defense association in the world.

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