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Sessions That Stood Out at NSBA Annual Meeting 10/26/18  10/29/18 9:51:56 AM Printer Friendly VersionPrinter Friendly Version

Sessions That Stood Out at NSBA Annual Meeting
By Lorraine Boyd
The Daily Record

A snapshot of meetings, both educational and social, reveals an atmosphere of high expectations at the 2018 Nebraska State Bar Annual Meeting. Here’s a glimpse of how the 2,000-plus participants spent their time last week.
Mediation in Nebraska
Sponsored by the Omaha Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division, a discussion of “Mediation in Nebraska” featured a panel of well-known Omaha attorneys
who have demonstrated exceptional skills as mediators: John C. Brownrigg, Mediation & Arbitration Services; Michael F. Kinney, Cassem Tierney Adams Gotch & Douglas; and Michael G. Mullin, Kutak Rock LLP.
Using their combined experience on thousands of cases, the panel discussed techniques and strategies attorneys can use to their benefit in mediations, and also, the just as important
“what not to do” tips.
This seminar was billed as being “helpful for the seasoned litigator, the in-house counsel looking for alternatives to traditional litigation and the newer attorney interested in learning more about the ADR process.”
It was all that and more.
Moderator Amy Van Horne of Kutak Rock took a position in the audience, then kept the session moving along by asking the panel questions from there. The innovative
approach was yet another reason
the session was a success.
“We were really honored to have these three preeminent mediators in the room at the same time,” Dave Sommers, Omaha Bar Association executive director, said. “It was a ‘big ask’ when we approached them eight months ago. We often lean on the OBA’s former presidents
to help us. This one was big.
“I thought their differences of opinion were fascinating. They’ve had thousands of cases. It was pretty special to have them here to share their insights,” he said.
As Brownrigg said, sometimes what they do is “magic.”
One of the topics that garnered a lot of interest was the “mediator’s
proposal.” All three said they had used it, but one said it never worked for him, while another said it almost always worked, with uncanny
accuracy. As the panelists shared their stories and opinions, a lot of humor emerged as they reacted
to each other.
“I was most interested in the similarities of the panel members as well as their differences in approach
to mediations,” said Hannah Sommers, a partner at Slowiaczek Albers PC LLO, and a member of the Young Lawyers Division. “The session was a great educational opportunity
for lawyers to know what to expect in a mediation. They gave great tips on how to be prepared for both mediation and outcomes. The takeaway for lawyers is that they have to be prepared to try their case before they can mediate it.
“It was a great opportunity to have all three of them on the panel; it was pretty invaluable.”
Upwards of 100 people were able to hear their remarks in person. The session will be on the Omaha Bar Association’s website as a podcast in the near future, Dave Sommers said.
Rehabilitating the Character and Fitness Requirements to Practice Law
Shon Hopwood, Georgetown Law professor, and Hon. Richard G. Kopf, Senior United States District Judge, District of Nebraska, made a very unlikely duo.
At the general session Oct. 19, the two took a seat in front of an audience
of hundreds to discuss how they came to be friends.
Kopf was the judge who sentenced
Hopwood to 12 years in federal
prison for bank robbery. But Hopwood made his mark in prison writing successful briefs for fellow inmates, attracting the attention of the legal community.
He reached out to Kopf, who said later he was surprised that Hopwood had made good on his promise to turn his life around.
The two have since made presentations
together, with Kopf assuming
the role of interviewer.
Their natural banter back and forth has a relaxed, friendly demeanor
that presents an introduction
to Hopwood’s talk on criminal justice reform.
Both drew laughs from the audience
as they presented a unique and revealing prelude to a closer look at the extraordinary story of Hopwood’s rehabilitation.
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