On Thursday April 5, 2018, the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution awarded the Divided Community Project – housed at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law – the 2018 John W. Cooley Institutional Lawyer as Problem Solver Award. The ABA’s press release is available. Ohio State University reported on the award. The Moritz College of Law reported on the award.
DCP convener and executive committee member, Joseph B. (Josh) Stulberg, the Michael E. Moritz Chair in Alternative Dispute Resolution at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, delivered the following remarks to members of the Dispute Resolution Section:
On behalf of the leadership group of the Divided Community Project and our multiple program pilot project partners, we want to express our deep gratitude and appreciation to the ABA’s Section of Dispute Resolution for honoring us as the recipient of the 2018 John W. Cooley institutional Lawyer as Problem-Solver Award.
What shapes the Divided Community Project?
It is apparent to each of us living in the United States that multiple members of our respective communities are bringing their concerns to the fore. Their advocacy has produced some change; some has triggered backlash. Discomfort with division has driven some into their own echo chambers regarding news and politics.
These civic challenges have always been a feature of our national life. We cannot wish them away. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so poignantly and optimistically observed many years ago: “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” So the challenge we face – in each generation – is how well we deal with such matters.
This project was born in the hope that in what sometimes seems increasingly to be intractable conflict, we see opportunities for communities to benefit from the lessons that our field has developed regarding collaborative dispute resolution: expertise in designing processes, framing issues, promoting listening, supporting spirited but constructive negotiations, to mention a few examples. Attorneys can sometimes bring the right people to the table. We hope that you will let us know if you are going to offer your dispute resolution and lawyerly expertise to your own communities, as we would be glad to share with you our experiences and the materials we have developed and, more importantly, thereafter learn from you about the success or challenges of your initiatives.
There are three groups of persons that we particularly want to recognize and thank. First, our financial supporters: the JAMS Foundation, which provided us with our leadership grant, and the Kettering, Littlefield and AAA/ICDR Foundations, plus multiple program units at The Ohio State University, who have provided us significant support at critical junctures.
Second, the many community, civic, Bar association, law enforcement and political leaders throughout our country who have shared with us their insights and wisdom regarding how each of us can help strengthen local capacity to plan for or provide direct assistance to fellow citizens involved in incidents that divide us.
And finally, it goes without saying – but we very much want to say it –our colleagues at the Moritz College of Law, and most especially our Dean, Alan Michaels. And to our students who inspire us each day.
For more than 20 years, our Moritz colleagues have encouraged, supported and challenged us to do this work at the highest possible standards of excellence. Each, in their distinctive way, has enriched our efforts. We collectively share and are energized by the observation that law-trained individuals steeped in traditions for advancing due process, insuring fair treatment, and securing equal dignity for all residents have a distinctive opportunity to put those insights to constructive use in multiple ways in our various communities. And, even more so, that persons privileged to be so trained – like each of us in this room – have, in the inspiring words of that extraordinary document that shapes our shared traditions, a special and continuing responsibility to help assist “We the People [to] form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility…and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”
Thank you, again, for this wonderful honor.
For more information about the Spring Conference and the awards events, go to americanbar.org/spring2018.