President Bisceglia opened 2008 with a question for all of us—“Lawyer-warrior or lawyer-peacemaker—what’s the better public image for our profession?” See, President’s Page, Illinois Bar Journal, Vol. 96, No. 1, page 8. Therein he talks about a prevailing resistance in our community to dispute resolution models other then the traditional litigation model. He also shared the following “truths” he has come to over his past 30 years of trial experience:
1. Litigation is generally not “good business.” As Lincoln and Voltaire recognized, it is expensive and time consuming, and the result is uncertain. It uses time, energy, and resources that could be better spent by the litigants in pursuing new opportunities instead of arguing over past disputes;
2. Most civil cases settle before trial;
3. If items 1 and 2 are true, the inescapable conclusion is that the litigants are well served by attempting to settle their civil disputes as soon as possible.
President Bisceglia urged ISBA members to “[e]mbrace the growing use of alternative methods of dispute resolution at every opportunity. It is here to stay. In the process, our image as lawyers—as problem solvers—is enhanced.” (Id st page 8).
To help with the paradigm shift and the work needed to embrace the “peace marker” model of conflict resolution the ISBA General Practice Section is offering a program this Spring. The program is entitled “Our Obligation to Fit the Process to the Problem: New and emerging Alternative Dispute Resolution Models.”1 This program will give participants an opportunity, not only to learn about different models now available, but to explore their own personal conflict styles through the use of a self-assessment tool and guided exercises. My hope is that looking through a “mirror” (such as the use of a self-assessment tool provides) will help us to start to affirmatively answer President Bisceglia’s question. Are you a warrior? Are you a peacemaker? Or, are you something other? Through answering these threshold questions we may be able to open broader dialogues which will lead us to answering the ultimate question of “what’s the better public image for our profession?”