in the Third Age: Changing Course to be an ADR Thought Leader
Melanie B. Abbott, Associate Professor of Law, Quinnipiac University
School of Law
first blush, the paradoxes of the Third Age seem inconsistent with the
image many people have of lawyers: hard-driving, acquisitive,
confrontational. Lawyers in practice live lives full of hard edges.
However, just beneath the surface of many successful lawyers lies
a wealth of desire for other forms of expression.
Many lawyers, reaching the traditional ‘retirement’ stage,
seek new avenues for those impulses.
such lawyer is Harry, who retired five years ago from a top
administration position in one of Connecticut’s largest insurance
companies. During his
forty-one-year career in practice, he worked as a litigator in a law
firm, served as town attorney, and acted as legislative commissioner for
the state of Connecticut before moving
in-house to be counsel at the insurance company for twenty-five
years, where he became a corporate officer.
the need for alternatives to costly, protracted litigation, Harry
discovered alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”), the legal
profession’s name for mediation and arbitration in many different
forms. Given an opportunity
to design, implement and oversee an in-house ADR program, he became
active in the growing
national ADR movement, getting in on the ground floor.
After implementing several ADR programs within the in-house
practice of the insurance industry, Harry sought new ADR opportunities
outside the industry.
left the corporation, intending to research and write about ADR and to
share his experience as a thought leader within the national ADR
community. At the same time,
Connecticut’s youngest law school was in the process of developing a
Center for Dispute Resolution. It
was a natural fit, and Harry has been a part of the Center’s
leadership ever since. As
the Distinguished Professor of Dispute Resolution Law from Practice,
Harry writes, teaches, and works with others in the regional and
national dispute resolution communities to increase lawyers’ awareness
of, and skill in using, dispute resolution techniques in law practice.
in this phase of his career, Harry sees a progression.
He’d like to spend another couple of years as a thought leader,
helping others in academic and practice settings structure the debate
about the ways in which ADR can be implemented as a litigation
alternative. After that, he
sees a role for himself as a mediator, leading a team in applying the
fruits of the Center’s research to disputes.
And still later, he’ll continue to have a productive part to
play, as a member of a mediation team led by a next-generation leader.
Harry, this path fulfills a need he explored while still active in
corporate bar associations. “We considered the idea of a ‘wise
counselor’ role for seasoned lawyers,” he said. Now, outside the corporation but still active in teaching,
reading writing, and leading, Harry is charting a path for future Third
Copyright 2004 Melanie B. Abbott and The Center for Third Age Leadership, LLC