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Now we’re told cherished ways are hopelessly outdated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.


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