The ADRA Ode
Conferment of First ADRA Fellowships to
Anne Ardagh and Laurence Boulle,
June 2015, Sydney
One score and seven years ago ADRA’s age began
Imbued with resolution, with foresight and with elan,
Access to Justice was the cry, so crass was litigation,
It could be solved, we then were told, through lawyer education.
Excitement burned for win-win in that citrus dispute
But what of this small challenge: each sister craves all the fruit.
Despite doubters ADRA’s crew embarked buoyantly,
Resilience meant a voyage lasting a quarter century.
The acronymphic syrons rang around its ears each year
Switched terms causing accolytes anxiety and fear
From ADR to PDR to EDR and then
To ODR and FDR, and ADR again.
Med-arb, arb-med and ENE, the hybrid and the blended,
JDR, RMABs, now NAJ and ADC,
FRCs, FDRPs, the rapture far from ended
Politics sank some ADR, despite its best intentions,
Pre-action came, and mostly went, opposed by the professions
The politics was also ill for NADRAC’s lucid voices
To slash debt it was swept away with other thoughtful forces
However we are now reprieved, with ADRAC on its way,
Perhaps next DRAC, then RAC, then AC, until one comes to stay.
The NMAS and MSB strident actors in the play
A second round of standards strives to hold wickedness at bay
From gravest interest conflicts, from vile fees contingent,
The former salutary, the second it could keep us all indigent.
Though still are heard febrile cries, ‘Accrediting gives me colic,
By stopping what comes naturally – it’s an academic frolic’.
And could NMAS be sunk by trumping breakaway
A rival group accrediting, courtesy the LCA?
The media fails to grasp the movement’s subtle nuance
Its transforming potential for every frown and glance
Even Richard Roxborough, as lusty lawyer Rake,
Portrays our noble practices as interstitial fakes
Not to mention Fairly Legal – though to be a sanguine muse
The kickarse mediator style we all could sometimes use.
Dave Williamson at the Ensemble came within an ace
With first A Conversation and then with Face to Face.
We just need much more PR to promote our beloved brand
We should emulate the pollies who have all this in hand.
Now we’re told cherished ways are hopelessly outdated
Dispute resolvers, one and all, must become sophisticated
We’re now beyond the process focus, the toolbox full of skills,
It’s now the game to convince us that, ‘Knowledge wins the drills’
With Doidge and Nudge and Drunk Tank Pink we’re Thinking Slow and Fast
The predictably irrational no more leaves us surpassed.
The neuro-scientists insist, for better mediation,
Its oxytocin that we need for trust and transformation
Nature does contribute, through suckling and ejaculation,
[Now my tale, like the ABC, needs moral emendation]
Since oxytocin naturale is banned, there is nasal spray
I brought some in my carry-on but sniffer dogs said stay.
Next we’re told, adjust your game to really be a hitter
Start using SMS, instagram and twitter
Text messaging for FDR, to some it soundeth dumb,
But emojis despatch emotion, just activate a thumb.
Despite the drive for quality this goal is sometimes lost
The neos and the bureaucrats assessing only costs
Measures qualitative in our movement are subsumed
By quantitative mumbo-jumbo – the true believers ruined.
Voluntariness in abeyance as performance pressures mount,
Productivity, efficiency and KPIs now count.
Managerial penchant becomes the order of the day
Can’t we revert to 87 when ideals held sway?
The scholars, for their part, make the literature replete
With blah blah on neutrality and other things effete
They earn research dollars probing our every way
Needed for promotion now that government won’t pay
It’s never quiet on DR street, of that you need not worry
ACICA and CIArb each reach an anniversary
Arbitration gains headlines – from Melbourne’s street Grand Prix
Adjudication it creates, at last, payment security
Courts rejuvenated by DR inspiration
JDR and MDC, judicial mediation?
Witnesses hot-tubbing, judges active listening,
ADR redundant through new modes of litigating?
Internationally the EU strives, reflects and gets
To legislate and regulate, and promote its palimpsets
In trade pacts ISDS controversially appears
It threatens TPP because of many countries’ fears.
We cannot, sadly, discourse too much upon the latter
It is regarded, we are told, as an operational matter
UNCITRAL ponders enforcing cross-border MSAs
Next we’ll turn galactically to disputants on Mars.
Self-care turns our focus to inner understanding
To mindfulness, mindsight, reflective supervising,
Our deepest doubts now allayed through active contemplation
A self-renewing salve for our noblest vocation
And to keep all safe from sins of nasty solepsism
Some in our ranks regard this with undisguised derision
In the annals of our discourse a chapter still is lacking
Grave global issues aggravate without our learned backing
The major conflicts round the world are far from resolution
The scourge of debt, security, invasion and pollution
War and greed claim countless souls car-bombed and droned
While they endure exuberance must surely be postponed
Francis calls to arms on plights of humanity
In this vortex can DR bring needed sanity?
Could intercession for just peace be DR’s new refrain?
Dante’s infernos doused? A too ambitious claim?
The politicians, the corporates, play adversarial confrontation
How nice twould be if they could be next up for education.
So our movement sallies forth, zealous but still half-dazed
Energetically facing all exigencies raised
We make blended hybrids here, there a new cultivar,
With webinar and atavar, and fellow Anne Ardagh
And now it’s time to cease, forsooth, these stanzas terrible
Before the audience suggests: this is far too much Boulle.