Virginia ADR Joint Committee

Geetha Ravindra, chair

The Joint Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee, a joint committee of the Virginia Bar Association and the Virginia State Bar, has 263 members and its officers this year include Geetha Ravindra, chair; Jeanne F. Franklin, vice- chair; and Donita King, secretary/treasurer.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Dispute Resolution Proceedings statutes in Virginia. The Joint ADR Committee, whose original members played key roles in the creation of the statutes, has been instrumental to the growth of mediation and other dispute resolution programs in the commonwealth.  To mark this important milestone, the Joint Committee is working on several initiatives.  First, an article by Larry Hoover and Geetha Ravindra was included in the VBA Journal describing the legislative history of the dispute resolution statutes and a timeline of key events in the field of ADR in Virginia over the past twenty years.  Second, past Joint Committee chairs were invited to the Council meeting on April 18, 2013, to share through video interviews their perspectives regarding initiatives of the Joint Committee.  These interviews will be featured on the Joint ADR Committee website and provide a wonderful oral history of the committee’s important contributions.  Third, a series of articles on the use of ADR in the private sector, in family cases, in state agencies, and in criminal matters will be included in the Fall VSB Virginia Lawyer.  Fourth and perhaps most significantly, a grand celebration is planned for October 15, 2013, during national ABA Mediation Week at the University Of Richmond School Of Law.  The focus of the program will be the future of ADR in Virginia.  The event will include guest speaker Dwight Golann, a professor and renowned mediation author from Suffolk University in Boston.  Golann’s plenary session will be followed by a luncheon, CLE sessions by Marshall Yoder and Tracie Carnie on the topics of effective questions and communication skills, and an ethics session by Frank Morrison and John Settle. The celebration will conclude with a reception at which past Joint ADR Committee chairs will be honored.  The Joint ADR Committee is grateful for the support of the University Of Richmond School Of Law and its ADR Society in co-sponsoring this event.

In addition to planning the upcoming 20th Anniversary Celebration, the Joint Committee’s Continuing Education Subcommittee offered excellent CLE programs including one at both the January VBA Meeting in Williamsburg and June VSB Meeting in Virginia Beach, “Making Peace at Home for Our Veterans.” The well attended sessions presented by Merri Hanson, Mike Miller, and Lettie Flores and moderated by Kimberly Fauss were ground-breaking; they provided a comprehensive overview of the mental health issues veterans face and the effects of such conditions on how veterans’ manage their affairs and civil disputes. Innovative ideas for use of mediation as a tool of choice to help veterans, and for mediation practitioners facilitating discussions between veterans and other parties were discussed. Audience members were urged to volunteer for the VBA’s Veterans Pro Bono Panel.

On March 2, 2013, the Joint ADR Committee also co-sponsored a program with the Virginia Mediation Network. Speaker Sharon Strand Ellison engaged more than 120 participants from the fields of law, conflict resolution, collaborative law, and human resources with her presentation on Powerful Non-Defensive Communication. The Joint ADR Committee’s CLE programs for the coming year are being planned by a five-member sub-committee:  Jeanne Franklin, John Settle, Kimberly Fauss, Frank Morrison, and Marshall Yoder.

On October 19, 2012, the Virginia ADR Joint Committee hosted a luncheon in recognition of the American Bar Association’s National Mediation Week.  A panel presentation including John McCammon, Judge Marc Jacobson, and Merri Hanson was held in which the speakers  discussed the growth of mediation in Virginia, its various applications, and future trends.  Co-sponsoring organizations included the Virginia Mediation Network, the Central Virginia Mediation Network, the Virginia Association for Community Conflict Resolution, and the University of Richmond ADR Society.The Joint ADR Committee’s Newsletter continues to provide cutting edge articles and is published in hard copy and electronically. In January 2013, Faith Alejandro became the new Editor of the Newsletter and is doing a fantastic job following in the footsteps of her predecessor, former Joint ADR Committee Chair Sam Jackson. In addition to the Committee’s informative Newsletter, our communication with members has been enhanced by Faith’s work on the website as well as new monthly electronic ADR Advisory.  The ADR Advisory is a brief update of the Joint Committee’s activities and upcoming events. With the help of the Virginia Bar Association, the new website now prominently features upcoming CLEs and provides public access to the latest newsletter. In addition, it provides greater access to our current leadership through easy-to-find contact information and committee links, as well as video clips that highlight the committee's history and achievements. Potential members can browse the streamlined website quickly and easily to learn about the committee's institutional history and the benefits of membership. 

New subcommittees have been formed to support the work of the Joint ADR Committee.  These include the Communications Subcommittee, the Programs Subcommittee, and Membership and Outreach Subcommittee. The work of the Joint ADR Committee would not be possible without staff support by Jeremy Dillon and Marilyn Shaw with the VBA.

Updated: Aug 01, 2013