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<xTITLE>A Chance to Become a Special Master</xTITLE>

A Chance to Become a Special Master

by Merrill Hirsh
December 2021

Disputing Blog by Karl Bayer, Victoria VanBuren, and Holly Hayes

Merrill Hirsh

In a September 15, 2021 post, I described the decision by the Academy of Court-Appointed Master (ACAM) (1) to try to open up the special masters profession by inviting people who had not previously served as special masters to join our organization and to receive training, mentoring and professional standards; and (2) to partner with other organizations both public and private both to recruit diverse candidates to serve as special masters and to expand the ways in which special masters can assist in the administration of justice.

Okay so here comes the sequel.  On November 21, 2021, ACAM’s announced that it has created three classes of membership:  Fellows (who meet criteria of experience in the field); Members (people who need not ever have been special masters, but are interested in becoming one); Associates (people who are interested in the special master profession but are not currently interested in becoming one).  The new membership is open now and you can check it out at ACAM’s website: www.courtappointedmasters.org.

So, how does this make you a special master?  The Academy also established several committees including a Training and Mentorship Committee.  That Committee is chaired by chaired by Roger Haydock (Mitchell Hamline Law School Professor and ACAM co-founder) and Amy Gernon (who was special master in the NHL Concussion Injury case).  And we are thrilled that former Federal Judicial Center Director and federal judge, Jeremy Fogel, will be working with ACAM to develop a curriculum to train special masters.  We hope to begin classes in the first quarter of 2022.

And, how does this get you work???  The mentorship program is designed to help give new members guidance and share the credibility of some of most experience special masters in the world to help a new diverse generation of special masters enter the field.  The Academy has also begun the process of reaching out in many directions both to recruit trainees and to partner with other organizations.  For example, we have recorded a podcast for the ABA Dispute Resolution Section.  I’ll be moderating a webinar for the ABACLE (January 12, 2022) (with a beyond all-star panel of Immediate Past Judicial Division Chair Hon. J. Michelle Childs (D. S.C.); Hon. Charles Breyer (N.D. Cal.); and ACAM Members Kenneth Feinberg and Deborah Greenspan (both of whom have decades of experience in some of the best-known special master work in history).  And I’m moderating another for the National Magistrate Judges Association (January 27, 2022) (with current NMJA Chair Hon. Kristen Mix (D. Col.); Hon. Kaymani West (D. S.C.) and special master and professor Maura Grossman.  We are working on reciprocal programs with the American Judges Association, a program for the annual meeting of the National Association for Court Administration, participating in the Federal Judicial Center’s review of the Manual for Complex Litigation and the Expert Evidence Manual, and working with a committee of the National Center for State Courts.  We are also reaching out to numerous affinity bars to encourage experience lawyers to consider becoming special masters.  We hope to develop a partnership in which special masters are, as they should be, considered as a regular part of judicial administration, with new voices to help in the effort.

Biography


Merril Hirsh of HirshADR PLLC and the Law Office of Merril Hirsh PLLC in Washington, D.C. www.merrilhirsh.com began his career with the United States Department of Justice Civil Division and has litigated for over 37 years.  He has represented both plaintiffs and defendants in public and private practice and arbitration.  He is a member of the International Task Force on Mixed-Mode Dispute Resolution organized by the Straus Institute of Dispute Resolution, the College of Commercial Arbitrators and the International Mediation Institute.  He is the co-chair of of the American Bar Association Judicial Division Lawyers Conference Committee on Special Masters, and was the convenor of the ABA Working Group that drafted the Guidelines for the Appointment and Use of Special Masters in Federal and State Civil Litigation.   He is also a hearing examiner for the DC Board of Professional Responsibility, a member of the mediation panel for the DC Court of Appeals.  He is also a member of the Academy of Court Appointed Masters and is a two-time recipient of its Civil Justice Award.



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