Photo by Lawrence Kolin
Lawrence M. Watson Jr., left, accepts the Sharon Press Excellence in ADR Award from Joseph B. Stulberg and Janice M. Fleischer.
ORLANDO, Fla. (Aug. 2 2015) - One of the first orders of business at the 23rd annual conference of the Florida Dispute Resolution Center was to present Lawrence M. "Larry" Watson Jr.
, a founding principal of Upchurch Watson White & Max Mediation Group, with the Sharon Press Excellence in ADR Award.
At Friday morning's opening plenary session, Janice M. Fleischer, outgoing director of the DRC, commented she was glad to be taking part in honoring Mr. Watson at the final DRC conference over which she will preside. She explained the Press Award is not given annually, and that it takes action by a special committee of five leaders in the field to determine whether there will be an honoree.
In accepting the Press Award, Mr. Watson -- who was best known as one of Florida's most talented trial lawyers 30 years ago -- said, "It was just a stroke of fate, happenstance, that I was there at the beginning." In 1987, he was summoned to Tallahassee as the Legislature was debating whether to grant civil trial judges the statutory authority to refer cases to mediation or arbitration. "They are trying to pass some kind of meditation (sic) act," Mr. Watson remembered being told. As he was destined eventually to chair the Florida Supreme Court Standing Committee on Mediation and Arbitration Rules & Procedures, he already knew the word was supposed to be “mediation.”
"Now, here we are, almost 30 years later, giving out awards named after each other to each other," he joked to an appreciative audience of several hundred dispute resolution professionals and a few guests. Mr. Watson acknowledged two of them. "I want to thank my administrator Cathy McCleary -- she's been with me for 30 years," he said. His wife of nearly 50 years, Lynne, also was thanked. "She's heard more mediation war stories than anyone should have to endure."
When he was notified of the honor in advance of the conference, he had remarked, "This is a tribute to our entire UWWM team and another notch in our firm’s resume."
On Friday, he used much of his time at the podium to advocate for more growth and change in the dispute resolution field. "There's lots to be done," he said including establishing good faith and bad faith standards and developing mediated case management.
In introducing Mr. Watson, Joseph B. "Josh" Stulberg explained exactly how his longtime friend and colleague exemplified the award's prerequisites of "visionary leadership, professional integrity, and unwavering devotion to the field of ADR" (Alternative Dispute Resolution). The inaugural Press Award honored Seventh Circuit Judge Shawn L. Briese in 2009, and winners since then have included Florida Supreme Court Justice Ben Overton, also a mediator with Upchurch Watson White & Max. Sharon Press was a longtime DRC director, and the award was established to honor her work. She left that post in 2009 to become the director of the Hamline University School of Law Dispute Resolution Institute in St. Paul, Minn.
About Upchurch Watson White & Max
A nationally leading mediation specialty firm, Upchurch Watson White & Max is known for facilitating reasonable agreements to resolve complex issues. From seven offices in Florida and Alabama, Supreme Court certified attorney mediators with wide-ranging specialties serve as court-appointed and privately employed mediators, arbitrators and third-party neutral case managers, implementing innovative methods of alternative dispute resolution across the country. On the Web: uww-adr.com
P R E S S R E L E A S E
Upchurch Watson White & Max
125 S. Palmetto Avenue
Daytona Beach, FL 32114
Catherine Klasne (email@example.com)
# # #