ADR Section meets in Grand Rapids


By Cynthia Price
Legal News

From business to pleasure, Grand Rapids showed members of the State Bar of Michigan Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Section how to do things right last weekend.
The section held its annual meeting at the Amway Grand Plaza and other distinctive Grand Rapids locations, including ArtPrize venues, from noon on Sept. 23 to 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 24.

Robert E. Lee Wright of Miller Canfield, who started out the meeting as secretary and ended it as chair-elect, was instrumental in making the schedule flow.

Friday evening was devoted to “tailgating” with a cocktail networking reception, followed by a “Can’t Miss Dinner” and an afterglow, which officially ran until 11 p.m.

During the dinner, awards were given out to local mediator Anne M. Bachle Fifer (Distinguished Service Award);  David Gruber (George N. Bashara, Jr. Award); and a new  Diversity in ADR ask Force Award (given by Toni Raheem and Grand Rapids attorney/mediator Dale Iverson) to Skot Welch from Global Bridgebuilders  and Ian Labardee from Cooper Lumen.
 On Saturday morning, the annual business meeting took place at a very early session as section members drank coffee and munched on a delicious continental breakfast.

But the heart of the gathering was an advanced mediation training starting Friday afternoon and continuing right after the business meeting at 9 in the morning Saturday until the “game-over” end of the conference. Well-known national trainers Tracy Allen and Eric Galton led participants through a detailed session which also had a football game theme, divided into pre-game, kick-off, red zone, and finally scoring on behalf of a resolution for clients.

Wright said that not everyone at the section meeting took the training for mediator credit; some were attending the meeting to get a feel for what the section is like and remained in an observer role.

Allen is from Global Resolutions, PLLC, in Grosse Pointe Farms, and Galton hails from Austin, Texas. Galton has written and edited influential books on mediation, including Ripples from Peace Lake: Essays for Moderators and Peacemakers.

Wright photocopied a chapter from that book for the meeting materials. “A Meeting of Strangers” tells the tale of a car accident at Christmas which resulted in the death of one of the drivers, the anguish of the driver who caused the accident through one moment of carelessness, and the pain and unresolved emotions of the deceased’s family. When the woman at fault apologizes during a mediation, the dead man’s family is empowered to find the peace they sought and reach out in forgiveness.

Such results are not uncommon in mediation and ADR, so the ADR Section kicked off an education campaign to let the public know of mediation’s benefits. “Michigan Mediates!” will make clear how cost-effective mediation could be for government agencies, potentially saving up to 85% of taxpayer money versus litigation. The ADR Section and a State Bar of Michigan Mediation Task Force researched practices of other states in determining this figure.

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Natural Resources have already signed on to participate in trainings done by ADR Section members on a volunteer basis.

Those interested may eventually visit the web site, which is currently under development, or contact Peggy Goodwin at 248-376-0390 or