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Stipanowich Addresses Arbitration Law for Supreme Court Arbitration Symposium

Tom Stipanowich

Thomas J. Stipanowich, professor of law, William H. Webster Chair in Dispute Resolution, and academic director of the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, is actively engaged in the national debate surrounding predispute or "mandatory" arbitration agreements in consumer and employment contracts.

This month he will offer his expertise to the SCOTUSblog Arbitration Symposium, an online discussion of recent Supreme Court decisions, as a leading arbitration scholar and advocate.  His participation in the SCOTUSblog symposium comes on the heels of publishing two op-eds on arbitration in the Daily Journal(August 3 and August 24).

Both are summaries of his new article, "The Third Arbitration Trilogy: Stolt-Nielsen, Rent-A-Center, Concepcion and the Future of American Arbitration,"which is due to be published in Columbia's American Review of International Arbitration. Read the draft.

In the publications, Stipanowich discusses his thoughts on the Supreme Court's most recent decisions limiting judicial oversight of arbitration provisions in non-negotiated standard consumer and employment agreements.  "I am concerned that recent Supreme Court decisions have left very little if any room for courts to ensure fundamental fairness in consumer and employment arbitration procedures," he explains. Stipanowich points out that those decisions have only increased calls to outlaw such provisions.

Instead of simply embracing either the Supreme Court's extreme pro-arbitration position or proposals in Congress to get rid of arbitration, Stipanowich advocates making process choices based on a closer examination of how various public and private approaches operate in practice. He encourages policymakers to take a look at alternative process models such as arbitration under procedural "due process" standards, which would provide uniform guidance for judicial monitoring of arbitration agreements and decrease the limitations placed by the court.  He also recognizes the potential value of emerging "online" approaches to resolving conflict, which may help boost efficiency, transparency, and accessibility in adjudication.

To further engage with this dynamic topic, the No. 1-ranked Straus Institute will host the "National Roundtable on Consumer Dispute Resolution" this spring, Feb. 3-4, 2012. The facilitated discussion will involve invited scholars, policymakers, and lawyers from around the nation.

In 2010, Stipanowich served as co-facilitator of another conversation on consumer dispute resolution sponsored by the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution. He was academic reporter for the Consumer Due Process Protocol, a public member and chair of the Securities Industry Conference on Arbitration, and academic advisor on the revision of the Uniform Arbitration Act.

Stipanowich is the author of numerous publications on arbitration and dispute resolution, including a major treatise cited by the Supreme Court and many other courts, and has twice received the CPR Institute's First Prize for Professional Articles. He played a leading role in many other legal, policy and practice initiatives. In 2008, he was given the D'Alemberte/Raven Award, the ABA Dispute Resolution Section's highest honor, for contributions to the field.

Stipanowich has extensive experience as a commercial and construction arbitrator, mediator, facilitator, and special master, with emphasis on large and complex cases, and serves as a neutral with JAMS.

Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution