On April 20, JAMS panelists Michael K. Lewis and Linda R. Singer will receive the D’Alemberte-Raven Award from the American Bar Association. This prestigious award recognizes outstanding service in the dispute resolution field, honoring individuals who have developed innovative programs and have improved dispute resolution services and efficiency. Past recipients of the award include JAMS Founder Hon. Warren Knight (Ret.), former Attorney General Janet Reno and Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.
A graduate of Harvard College and George Washington University School of Law, Singer has more than 30 years of dispute resolution experience as an arbitrator, mediator, civil litigator and neutral evaluator.
Singer pioneered the development of mediation as a practice, training mediators and lawyers throughout the United States and abroad. Attorneys describe her as tenacious, intelligent and possessing an innate ability to settle cases that others could not.
A graduate of Dartmouth College and Georgetown University Law Center and a former Foreign Service Officer, Lewis is known for his ability to resolve the most complex disputes in virtually every area of law including business, public policy, employment, environment and government.
Based in Washington, D.C., Lewis and Singer are also married to each other. Following is a snippet of an interview with the two of them from the upcoming issue of the Dispute Resolution Alert. We’ll be sure to link to the entire article once the issue publishes.
What does it mean to you to receive the 2012 D’Alemberte-Raven Award?
Singer: It’s the most prestigious award in our profession because it comes from our peers, because of our predecessors who’ve received the award and because of the two ABA giants after whom it is named.
Lewis: I’m not sure I’ve absorbed the fact that the section has decided to honor us. Frankly, it was a real stunner. I hope that those who chose us recognized the importance of our early work in the field and the desirability of supporting efforts designed to provide dispute resolution services to the less fortunate among us.
What drew you to the ADR field?
Lewis: It was the sense that there had to be a better way of resolving disputes other than violence, litigation or taking it to the streets. In the early 1970’s, mediation especially was not used widely other than in labor disputes.
Singer: We both got taken with the notion of mediation and of trying to focus parties on what’s most important to them, enabling them to look forward and to repair relationships. We grew with the field – we started with interpersonal disputes and we now handle both huge and smaller disputes.
What kinds of disputes are the most interesting to you?
Singer: I like puzzles with lots of moving pieces. I like the intellectual challenge of multiple parties or of class actions with a lot of different people and issues. Sometimes I’m surprised that the most interesting disputes are less about the subject matter and more about the people and the personalities.
Lewis: I’ve enjoyed disputes involving layers of government and business and ordinary folks all mixed in one big stew. At the end of the day, when you leave with a sense that the mediation has made a difference in someone’s life, it’s an incredible high.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Singer: People sometimes ask us how we, as a married couple, have been able to work together as colleagues for such a long time. We’ve even mediated a couple of very large cases together and it really is a pleasure.
What’s the secret?
Lewis: Adaptability and persistence!