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Ohio State Moritz College of Law program wins prestigious Problem Solver Award

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Moritz College of Law Divided Community Project (DCP) is the recipient of the American Bar Association’s 2018 John W. Cooley Lawyer as Problem Solver Award. DCP provides public officials and community leaders with useful tools and resources to effectively manage community unrest before it occurs and to constructively address violent social conflicts that do arise. The award recognizes individuals and organizations that use their problem-solving skills to forge creative solutions. It is given to an individual member of the legal profession and/or institution who has exhibited extraordinary skill in either promoting the concept of the lawyer as problem-solver or resolving individual, institutional, community, state, national or international problems.

Joseph B. Stulberg

“We, of course, are deeply honored to be named the recipient of the 2018 “Lawyer as Problem Solver” Award by the American Bar Association’s Dispute Resolution Section. This award reaffirms that while many persons of various backgrounds, skills and talents importantly contribute to strengthening civility and understanding among community residents, those of us privileged to be trained as lawyers – in traditions for advancing due process, ensuring fair treatment and securing equal dignity for all residents – have a distinctive opportunity and responsibility to engage,” said Joseph B. (“Josh”) Stulberg, Michael E. Moritz Chair in Alternative Dispute Resolution.

The project grew out of an April 2015 meeting of leaders and mediators throughout the United States with experience dealing with civil unrest in communities. The project utilizes a proactive approach to addressing community division: Communities are first asked to focus on the roots of deep community divisions while project members take a multidisciplinary approach to generating ideas to help communities create plans before divisive incidents erupt.

DCP’s signature work is its collaboration with groups in four cities: Columbus, Ohio; San Mateo, California; Rochester, New York; and Orlando, Florida. In Columbus, the majority and minority bar associations worked with the U.S. attorney’s office to lead the initiation of the Columbus Community Trust. The group’s all-volunteer steering committee has tested a pilot project concept with more than 50 stakeholders, including leaders and representatives from the mayor’s office, law enforcement, religious groups, civil rights organizations, and civic organizations.

Alan Michaels

“This project, a significant component of our nationally recognized Program on Dispute Resolution, reflects in its activities what each of my Moritz colleagues strives to do each day – contribute to the national conversation, challenges and rule of law dispute resolution processes in an effort to improve the quality of life of each of our community members,” said Alan C. Michaels, dean and Edwin M. Cooperman Chair in Law.

The project has created a toolkit for communities that includes three reports: Planning in Advance of Civil Unrest (2016), Key Considerations for Community Leaders Facing Civil Unrest (2016) and Divided Communities and Social Media (2017). A forthcoming 2018 report, Facing Hate, will focus on how community leaders can prepare and respond to hate incidents. DCP has also developed tools including a table top simulation and a community stress assessment test that successfully support planning in advance of civil unrest. This year, DCP will launch the American Spirit Initiative which will focus on dissemination and implementation of resources through pilot programs nationwide.

Grande Lum has served as the DCP’s director for the last two years. The steering committee is comprised of Nancy Rogers, Stulberg, Sarah Cole, Bill Froehlich, Susan Carpenter, Chris Carlson, Craig McEwen, Andrew Thomas, Sarah Rubin and Michael Lewis.