A young, vibrant and alive mentor once taught me that it costs no more to dream big than to dream little. And Michael Leathes is dreaming big.
With IMI Chair Deborah Masucci, Michael has recently proposed a “Global Pound Conference.” Referring to the 1976 conference at which Prof. Frank Sander shared his vision of a “multidoor courthouse,” Masucci and Leathes are calling for an event to “shake ADR out of its slumber” and “kick-start” mediation on a global scale.
And when Masucci and Leathes say global, they mean global:
Placing cross-border dispute resolution at the center of attention would help maintain focus on issues that are widespread internationally rather than on those of a local or national nature that may have little relevance elsewhere. Since we live in the Internet Age, such an event can include diverse voices by leveraging massive stakeholder crowd-sourcing on a global scale, led by some 15 or more physical gatherings in different countries. On a single day, or perhaps two days, across 20 time zones, starting in Australasia and Japan and ending in the Americas, the GPC could instantaneously identify the prevailing needs of disputants, the positives and shortcomings of the status quo, debate the options for creating change, and end with a collective action plan that secures stakeholder buy-in. That would replace what Dean Pound described as tinkering with inspiration.
The format of the sessions and the nature of participation would be radically different from anything that has been staged previously in the dispute resolution field, or in any other field, nationally or internationally. There would be a common format, addressing common issues in cross-border dispute resolution, but with the flexibility to embrace local and regional issues and cultural considerations.
The event would be interlinked by live webinar to registered participants worldwide, some choosing to gather in smaller, ad hoc groups. Delegates attending the 15 or so locations in person would each have devices enabled for use in sessions so that they could be asked to vote on propositions, some of them spontaneous, and to offer remarks and comments that could be instantly clustered and projected onto a shared screen as well as the individual screens of participants everywhere. Those participating by live Internet feed would be able to vote electronically if they have registered for that capability, and contribute comments onto the collective screens. In a matter of seconds, thousands of informed opinions could be electronically harvested, segmented by stakeholder group, geography, culture and other categories, assembled by subject matter and agglomerated into mass opinions portrayed in numbers and graphs.
The proponents are aiming at Spring 2015, and envision the involvement of business end-users and academics as well as lawyer gate-keepers and ADR service providers. They want change, and they advocate providing inspired change through a new 21st-Century method of convening.