DR Symposium focuses on conflict resolution strategies

Issue July/August 2017 By Sheri Wilson

The DR Section's debut Symposium was held on May 19 and we're pleased to report a resounding success! Nearly 100 attendees enjoyed valuable presentations, had opportunities to learn about trending business challenges and technology from engaging and knowledgeable speakers, new relationships were established, and enduring connections were revitalized. The Symposium painted an industry both mature and infinitely progressive, uniquely positioned in law as to be flexible to the needs of a wide range of DR consumers.

Exceeding attendee expectations was a superb keynote

Attendees thoroughly enjoyed a lively, humorous, and interesting presentation by crisis/hostage negotiator Jeff Thompson, Ph.D., who educated us with useful insights informed by his research and studies. His charismatic delivery encouraged tremendous audience participation, and both the keynote, along with Jeff's follow-up session entitled: Effective Skills of Mediators, were valuable and highly regarded.

In fact, over one-third of the Symposium's attendees responded to an evaluative survey, and every one of them rated the DR Symposium as Excellent, Very Good, or Good! The feedback we received has not only been overwhelmingly positive, but will also help us bring you an even better experience next year.

The state of the DR industry

Review of the multiple facets of the DR Spectrum confirmed an enduring industry, and uncovered definitive pockets of progression, evolution, and opportunity. We learned about trends, discussed innovative initiatives, and considered how technology will affect our businesses in the future. A solid third of our attendees indicated that they practice in the areas of arbitration, collaborative law, and other critical industry operations (in addition to mediation). We'll continue to provide educational focus on the wide scope of existing DR solutions. It was quite motivating to hear our colleagues reflecting on their wins and see them shaping business direction from these experiences.

A profusion of skill-sharing and networking-made-easier

Twenty-four industry leaders participated in panel discussions, practical presentations, and DR-focused specialty sessions. We attracted a tremendous amount of talent and knowledge in those rooms, but also learned that we need to keep talking to our newer colleagues and to students, and to focus on stimulating synergy along this spectrum. A notably bright note was that more than 95 percent of survey respondents found the networking opportunities provided at the Symposium valuable in terms of their career development.

If you have not yet become a member of the growing DR Section, we invite you to log into your account at www.massbar.org, click on Member Groups, and then click on MBA Sections/Division. There you will see the Dispute Resolution Section; scroll down to the Current Member list, where you will find a link to join just above it in the right-hand column. Our community will continue to develop compelling opportunities for members to learn, advance, and develop; we are committed to providing a comprehensive, state-wide platform for DR-focused collaboration.

Our thanks

We are grateful to everyone who helped make the DR Symposium a great success! Please stay tuned for our "save the date" announcement for the second annual Symposium.

Sheri Wilson is the director of Marketing and Operations at Massachusetts Dispute Resolution Services (MDRS), and is an experienced business strategist with cross-industry expertise in small-to-medium firms. Wilson serves on the DR Section Council.