Georgia-Pacific's ADR Program: A Critical Review After 10 Years - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 60, No. 2
Principal Counsel for Litigation and ADR at Georgia-Pacific Corporation, Phillip M. Armstrong is a member of the ADR Sections of the American Bar Association, and the Georgia, Atlanta and Kentucky Bar Associations. He previously chaired the Atlanta Bar’s ADR Section and is the current secretary of the Georgia State Bar’s ADR Section. He sits on the executive committee of the CPR Institute for Conflict Resolution, on the board of directors for GPC Credit Association, and the board of trustees for Cumberland College. Mr. Armstrong also is an adjunct faculty member at the law schools of Georgia State and Emory Universities where he teaches ADR. His pro bono activities include service on the Atlanta Bar’s ADR Peer Mediation Committee and the ABA’s ADR mentoring program.
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
An assessment of a Fortune-500 company’s 10-year old ADR program, including a look at the costs saved through the program.
In 1998, the American Corporate Counsel Association published an article I wrote summarizing Georgia-Pacific’s1 entry into the world of alternative dispute resolution (ADR).2 After a decade of ADR experience (January 2005 marked the 10th anniversary of Georgia-Pacific’s program), it seems appropriate to critically review that program to determine how it has fared over this period, how it changed (if at all), what improvements were made (if any), and what have we learned and can impart to other institutions from our experience. In short, as the person responsible for developing Georgia-Pacific’s ADR program, I felt the need to take stock, to stand back and ask where we are after nearly a decade of experience using ADR.
The earlier article was written when the company’s ADR program was in its infancy. At the time, Georgia-Pacific was one of the first Fortune 500 companies to establish a formal ADR program. The article contrasted how Georgia-Pacific historically managed disputes—i.e., hiring outside counsel, commencing a lawsuit, embarking on discovery, and then often settling shortly before trial—with a new, presumably less adversarial, more problem-solving approach, one that evaluated cases early and, when appropriate, used mediation or some other ADR process to resolve the dispute.3 I noted in the 1998 article that “with few exceptions, Georgia-Pacific tries to resolve a matter in the first 60 to 90 days, well before discovery is underway.”4 The article provided an estimate of the savings generated from the ADR program during its first few years.