Chair’s Message

As we move into the New Year I am excited about the progress made by the ADR Section and the prospects of our continued success in 2018. Our Section membership has grown to 950 ADR practitioners and continues to enjoy an active and strong leadership. I will continue to serve as Chair until June 2018 when I turn over the reins to Chris Magee, Chair-Elect. Serving alongside her on the Executive Council are Kim Torres (Secretary), Michelle Jernigan (Treasurer) and Meah Tell (Immediate Past Chair).

One of the highlights of last year was the Section retreat held at the Hutchinson Shores Resort in November. The main topic for the retreat was long-range planning for the Section. Our mission is to advocate for, and educate the Bar and the public about, all forms of dispute resolution. To effectively accomplish this goal it is important that we function in a way that best serves the needs of our Section members. This means staying abreast of proposed legislation that impacts ADR, offering meaningful CME/CLE opportunities and keeping our membership apprised about all things ADR. The retreat was a huge success! We had live or telephone attendance by a majority of our Executive Council members, as well as representatives of the Florida Bar Board of Governors, the Dispute Resolution Center and the ADR Rules and Policy Committee.

The Section has offered numerous CME/CLE opportunities to Bar and Section members over the past year. Some of our recent offerings have been:

“Advanced Mediation Practice; Casting Light on the Dark Art of Mediation”
“Escalation Clauses in Cross Border Dispute Resolution: Why Your Client Wants Mediation?” “Recent Trends in Mediation and Arbitration”

We also are among the sections that have partnered with the Young Lawyers Section on its Legal Accelerator project and are working to provide series of short mentoring videos on selected topics of interest. Other educational opportunities are in the planning stages.

We have been very active this year in monitoring rule-making and legislation which affects our membership. The Section recently filed a comment with the Dispute Resolution Center supporting proposed rule changes requiring mandatory certification of mediators in Circuit Civil and Family Law cases. This proposal is currently under consideration by the ADR Rules and Policy Committee. We plan to continue to be active in this process, which is of great importance to our Section members.

We are monitoring two pending bills in the Legislature that may impact mediation procedures if enacted: Senate Bill 1034 (Steube) and House Bill 1043 (Metz). We are working with Aimee Diaz-Lyon of the Florida Bar lobbying team, as well as the Legislation Committees of other Bar Sections. Our Executive Council is gathering input from ADR Section members and considering our course of action, if any.

We are currently in the process of improving our website, newsletter, social media presence and our overall ability to serve, educate and inform ADR Section members. Lisa Tipton of PR Florida, Inc. has been retained to assist us with these endeavors. As we start this New Year, we embrace our past successes and enthusiastically venture forward to make the ADR Section one of the top-performing sections of The Florida Bar.

Robert A. Cole
ADR Section Chair