American Bar Association


Who We Are

Welcome to the Government Committee webpage. Our mission is to serve as a resource for local, state, and federal government ADR practitioners. We share information relevant to government ADR. We promote awareness of the wealth of ADR activity in the local, state, and federal government realms. Most importantly, we provide opportunities for all of you to share experiences, lessons learned, and best practices at all levels of government ADR. We hope that you will join us in making this committee as vibrant and as beneficial as it can be.

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The Community Relations Service, U.S. Department of Justice, is the Department's "Peacemaker" for community conflicts and tensions arising from differences of race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion and disability.

The mission of the Office of Dispute Resolution, U.S. Department of Justice, is to develop policy and to promote the effective use of alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) processes.

You’ll find the ADR policies and programs of many of the federal agencies listed on this site as well as information about the federal Interagency Working Group. The Working Group was established as a resource for developing ADR programs and sharing information to support the use of ADR.

Message From The Chair

The Dispute Resolution Section’s Spring Conference in San Francisco is coming up quickly. We hope to see you there.

The Government Committee will meet on Friday morning, April 21 from 7:00 to 7:45 am. The good news is that breakfast will be served! We’ll talk about what’s been happening since we met in New York City last year and what you see coming up in 2017-18.

Below are sessions slated for the Government track that we will be attending. Are there others on the schedule that you would like to alert your fellow Committee members to? Please share them with us and we’ll pass along to the list.

Deirdre McCarthy Gallagher and Miriam Nisbet

ABA DR Section Government Committee Co-Chairs


Thursday, April 20 – 1:15 to 2:30 pm

Power to the People: Addressing Power Imbalances in Employment Mediations

Federal government mediations of employment disputes in an investigatory agency (such as the U.S. Office of Special Counsel and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) present classic power imbalances in a unique context. The panel will discuss how dispute systems design principles were used to identify recurring power imbalances among stakeholders and develop strategies to overcome them. Successful process features such as the use of subject matter experts, the inclusion of "support" (non legal) participants, and a flexible mediation structure will be explored. The panel will work with attendees to dissect two complex scenarios and, through that process, pose ethical considerations and discuss the impact of whether "disadvantaged" parties do better in mediation or in court. They will also discuss how their lessons learned can be implemented beyond the government realm, in private sector mediations.

Presenters: Deirdre McCarthy Gallagher, Jane Juliano, Victor Voloshin, Marcia K. Thompson

Thursday, April 20 - 2:45 to 3:45 pm

FOIA and Mediation: Together at Last

One highlight of 2016 was the 50th anniversary of the federal Freedom of Information Act. (Since then, all 50 states and DC have enacted FOI laws.) Additionally, both houses of Congress unanimously passed--and POTUS signed--significant amendments that bolster the use of dispute resolution in every federal’s agency’s FOIA process. With 700,000+ requests each year, disputes regularly arise between the public and federal agencies. Improving communications and resolving disputes save administrative resources and avoid costly litigation. The amendments also give the FOIA Ombudsman (the Office of Government Information Services) additional authority and institutional independence. Find out what led to these changes and how will they improve our original Open Government laws.

Presenters: Miriam Nisbet, Inga Watkins, Deborah Osborne

Thursday, April 20 - 7:30 pm to 10:00 pm

Dine-Around with Government Committee and Mid-Atlantic Regional Chapter

Please contact Miriam Nisbet at for details including how to RSVP)

Friday, April 21, 7:00 am to 7:45 am

Conference Breakfast and Committee Meetings (including Government Committee)

Friday, April 21, 11:15 am to 12:15 pm

The Challenge: Achieving Uniformity in State ADR Law

The Uniform Law Commission (ULC, also known as the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws) has been at work for more than 100 years providing states with draft legislation in critical areas of state law. This interactive program will feature background and legislative updates on the ULC’s uniform acts in the area of alternative dispute resolution, including the Uniform Mediation Act, Uniform Collaborative Law Act, and the newly approved Uniform Family Law Arbitration Act. Join us to discuss these acts, talk trends in state ADR laws, and learn how you can help shape future uniform acts in ADR.

Presenters: Kaitlin A. Dohse, Richard C. Reuben, Larry R. Rute, Miriam Nisbet

Also on Friday, April 21 at 11:15 am

The Future of Conflict Coaching in the Federal Sector

Conflict coaching is a critical component of organizational dispute systems and is increasingly used in the public and private sectors as a stand-alone dispute resolution process and as an auxiliary process to mediation and other ADR processes. This panel addresses critical questions about how to optimize the use of conflict coaching in the federal sector and proposes a research agenda for collaborative research across agencies.

Presenters: Tricia S. Jones, Cinnie Noble, Merri Hanson King, Vik J. Kapoor, Cynthia S. Mazur

Join Us



Gallagher, Deirdre
Nisbet, Miriam

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Modified by Zeina Hamade on July 25, 2017

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