Wrapping up a Hot Summer with a Cool JADC Retreat

Kimberly Sands, a partner with Upchurch Watson White & Max, has been a civil litigator and has been involved with difficult and complex disputes as litigator or mediator for over 30 years. To schedule a mediation with Kimberly, please call her case manager, Cathy McCleary, at (800) 863-1462, or visit our online calendar.

UWWM Principal Kimberly Sands UWWM Principal Kimberly Sands

I recently had the pleasure of attending the 2015 annual retreat of the Jacksonville Association of Defense Counsel at the Ritz Carlton on Amelia Island. Not only was the location a treat, but also the program, moderated by Boyd & Jenerette appellate attorney Kansas Gooden, was as good as any I have attended. UWWM was a sponsor of the event.

UWWM Shareholder Bob Cole spoke on recent trends in mediation and ADR, including proposed amendments by the Florida Bar ADR Rules and Policy Committee currently under consideration by the Florida Supreme Court. Among other things, the committee is recommending New Florida Rules of Civil Procedure 1.840, 1.850, and 1.860, allowing for party or court referral to a greater variety of alternative dispute processes and the rules under which these processes may be utilized.

The ADR options are not specifically defined. Instead, the idea is that parties may pursue the resolution process that best suits the needs of the parties and the dispute. Possible options include neutral evaluation, private judging, mini-trials, summary jury trials, mediation/arbitration, and other models that can vary with the needs of the parties. As professional neutrals, UWWM has addressed many of these options before.

Also noteworthy was a presentation by the Hon. William Van Nortwick (ret), now with Akerman, LLP. Judge Van Nortwick addressed professionalism and ethics, primarily in the context of representations before the court. It was a good reminder that our most valuable asset as attorneys is our credibility and that candor before the court is critical to maintaining our ethical obligation as attorneys as well as credibility with the court. Judge Van Nortwick also took the opportunity to introduce the group to artificial intelligence programs that incorporate data for complex legal reasoning for banking, business, or international clients. As a result, legal advice that might have required extensive research can be done nearly as easily as a Web search. The data that is available now for statistical or information-based problem solving is unlimited; it waits only for the program that pulls it all together.

Also presenting were some of the best and brightest in defense litigation, including Jep Barbour and Jill Bechtold with Marks Gray; Bill Stone with Saalfield Shad Stokes Inclan Stoudemire & Stone; Kristen Van der Linde and Andrew Abramovich with Boyd & Jenerette; Meg Heiden with Smith Hulsey & Busey and Frank Pierce with Mateer Harbert. Congratulations to all on an excellent program and an enjoyable retreat.

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