February 29, 2016

ABA Section of Dispute Resolution Devotes Newsletter to Ombuds Issues

The Ombuds Committee has sponsored the latest edition of the ABA DRS Just Resolutions newsletter. An introduction by Ombuds Committee Chair Chuck Howard explains, "[W]e have assembled six articles for your review that will give you a better sense of the breadth and utility of ombuds programs. These articles reflect the good work that is being done by our committee members and are worth reading by everyone with an interest in dispute resolution."

The articles include:
  • Mediation and Ombuds Practice: Peace Making in Legal Disputes and Organizational Issues, by Caroline Adams and Dr. Poopak Taati
    Mediation is an ancient practice preceding any formal legal system. Mediation existed in ancient Persia, China, Rome, and in early America. In these societies, mediators were held in high regard and selected from the wisest and most experienced elders relying on their special skills of empathy and understanding as well as conflict resolution. Today's mediation is more commonly used to settle legal disputes and prevent their escalation to litigation. Mediation can be part of a court process in civil cases, such as divorce, or in criminal cases. In addition, mediation is used to resolve international and community disputes, and even workplace conflicts.
  • The Ombudsman as Advisor, by Sharon A. Asar
    The term ombudsman is defined, in part, as an important organizational resource that provides a focal point for informally resolving individual and systemic process issues. The ombudsman may define her role in a number of ways, including as an advocate, a sounding board, or a facilitator. The various roles served by an ombudsman are largely determined by the particular type of ombudsman program in which the ombudsman serves. This article largely relates to the ombudsman role as it exists within the United States federal sector and focuses on a role of the ombudsman that may be overlooked--that of the ombudsman as an advisor.
  • Resolved: We Need a New Ombuds Resolution, by Natalie Fleury and Vik Kapoor
    Currently, the Dispute Resolution Section’s Ombuds Committee is developing a resolution for the ABA House of Delegates. The draft language is aspirational in nature with the objective of encouraging the greater use of ombuds in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. Once the resolution meanders through the process – including review by the Section’s Council and other Sections – it will, ultimately, be put to a vote in the House of Delegates, the ABA’s policy-making body. Assuming all goes according to plan, we expect to have a new resolution on the books near the end of 2016.
  • The Power of Apology and Forgiveness in Dispute Resolution, Kenneth Cloke interviewed by Jory Canfield and Vik Kapoor
    In October 2015, Ken Cloke presented a webinar on apology and forgiveness in dispute resolution that was available to members of the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution. Here, we set out to further explore some of the points raised in the webinar, by way of a Q&A with Ken. Because this article is appearing in the issue of the newsletter devoted to ombuds’ issues, we focus on that function where appropriate.
  • FOIA and Dispute Resolution: Together at Last, by Miriam Nisbet and Alicia Booker
    Now approaching its 50th anniversary as the original United States’ “open government” law, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides the public with the right to access U.S. government records and information. With more than 700,000 requests each year, disputes regularly arise between members of the public and the federal agencies. Until Congress amended the law in 2007, however, there was no statutory or administrative provision for an alternative to litigation by a FOIA requester who is dissatisfied. Additionally, there was no designated resource for an agency FOIA officer who might have benefited from the services of a neutral intervenor in negotiating a complex or difficult request.
  • Classical Ombuds: Current Rhythms, by Jon Stier
    Classical ombuds in the United States are busy, and we want to be sure you’re keeping tempo with us. In this article, I endeavor to remind you of who we are; characterize our impact through a few emblematic recent case summaries; and report on the trend toward specialization in our branch of the ombuds field.
(ABA Just Resolutions.)

Related posts:  ABA Dispute Resolutions Newsletter Focuses on OmbudsGuide to Ombuds Sessions at 2015 ABA Dispute Resolution Conference; ABA Webinar to Spotlight Ombuds in Healthcare; ABA Labor and Employment Law Conference to Feature OmbudsUN Ombuds to Headline ABA Dispute Resolution Conference.


  1. Thanks Tom! Note there may have been a typo on the ABA site. Jory and I Interviewed Ken :) And it was a really neat experience! I encourage people to get involved in these kinds of ways. Special thanks to Chuck Howard and Clara Bowron, in addition to Jory and of course Ken.