Lawyer Monthly - ADR Awards 2023

46 LAWYER MONTHLY ADR AWARDS 2023 Mediator of the Year Arbitrator and Mediator Joan Parker ADR About Joan When I was in secondary school, a teacher talked to me about the expanding role of women in industry and government, and he inspired me to attend Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. At Cornell, I was significantly influenced by my professors, particularly a brilliant female professor who was one of the few women who had successfully developed a career as a labor arbitrator in the 1950’s. After graduating, I stayed at Cornell and earned a doctorate in law, industrial relations, and dispute resolution. Following a short stint at a government agency, at age 28, I accepted a teaching position at Rutgers University’s Institute of Management and Labor Relations, and simultaneously launched my practice as an arbitrator and mediator. I left Rutgers after twelve years in order to devote myself full-time to neutral work, but have continued to lecture at universities and conferences around the country. Regardless of whether I am arbitrating or mediating, I strive to be intellectually honest and thoroughly committed to the assignment. I also have always known there is no substitute for hard work and perseverance. In arbitration, the ability to write analytically and cogently has been important. In mediation, tenacity and empathy for the parties are two key attributes I try to bring to the table. Attorneys tell me I am a pro-active and evaluative mediator. I tend to agree. I also believe that being a woman has been helpful, particularly in mediation. A woman can be tough but also can defuse a tense situation in unique ways. As to arbitration, a wise attorney once told me to “write for the loser.” If the losing attorney, even though disappointed, can understand the reasoning underlying my decision, and explain it to his/her client, then I have done my job well. The range of disputes that I handle is substantial. I work in both the union and non-union sectors, in public and private employment. In labor cases, the issues concern the interpretation and application of collective bargaining agreements. Additionally, I may be retained to assist parties who have reached an impasse in contract negotiations and are seeking assistance in writing a new agreement. In employment matters, the disputes concern wrongful termination; breach of contract; failure to perform; noncompete agreements; dissolution of partnerships; as well as statutory claims involving race, gender, age, disability, religion, pensions, and fair labor standards. Labor organizing in America has not been robust in recent years. Hence, I do not see labor arbitration as an expanding profession. However, an enormous array of statutes at both USA Joan Parker “Regardless of whether I am arbitrating or mediating, I strive to be intellectually honest and thoroughly committed to the assignment.”

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