At the beginning of October, I arrived at CEDR – a fresh-faced, unsuspecting music graduate, with little knowledge of dispute resolution – with the task of organising the most established social event in the ADR calendar. Nearly two months, three full blown fist fights with the printer, thousands of emails and unquantifiable cups of tea later, and Thursday November 29th had come around.
The evening began with a champagne reception in the Waldorf Hotel’s stunning Palm Court, accompanied by the atmospheric tones of a jazz trio from the Royal Academy of Music. As we welcomed nearly 200 members of the ADR glitterati from around the globe, it was gratifying to finally put faces to names, after weeks of memorising guest lists and reordering table plans.
Dinner was served in the Adelphi Suite, and following CEO Dr Karl Mackie’s welcome, CEDR Foundation Chair, Lady Elizabeth Vallance, spoke on the way in which dispute resolution has changed over the past few years. Looking around the room at the awards attendees, this was extremely topical.
It was a pleasure to be able to host ADR-friendly companies from a variety of industries, and young people entering into the profession – accompanied by supportive families and partners – as well as a number of our better-known law firms.
As the last mouthful of apple tarte tatin was consumed, our Master of Ceremonies, Graham Massie, took to the stage. “Most people think they’re good at three things”, he began, “driving, negotiation… and sex. And so we come to our winners!”
While you may make of this what you will, congratulations should certainly go to Julie-Ann McCaffrey for her Tony Curtis award-winning essay “Mediation as an Unadopted Road” and my | deposits in the Excellence in Conflict and ADR category.
Judge Srdan Simac from Croatia and the Commercial Mediation Group were joint winners of the ADR and Civil Justice Innovation award, while Geoff Lloyd was crowned ADR Champion.
Thankfully, tearful speeches were avoided, but Ian Steadman’s indispensable advice to – “Marry a mediator!” – when accepting John Brand and his wife Felicity Steadman’s award for ADR Trainer was heart-warming.
In the Best Communication or Publication category, Harvard University won the award for their short film series.Henry Brown and Arthur Marriot were highly commended for the revised edition of “ADR: Principals and Practice”, but were clear winners in the fashion stakes!
And what, you may wonder, did I learn from my CEDR Awards experience?
Through communicating with a range of professionals on a day to day basis, I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge on ADR (i.e., I now know what it stands for).
I’m now practised in tracking down retired Judges in exotic locations, in researching last-minute tuxedo hire and in battling wet-weather trains from the South West of England.
I’ve proved that I can eat five main courses in one sitting, thanks to a memorable afternoon of food-tasting at the Waldorf.
I’ve even had a little negotiation practice of my own (I should have known that mediators would be tricky nuts to crack when dealing with ticket sales!)
Above all, I’ve learned that event organisation is about so much more than an evening in a plush hotel. All of those faceless emails can really make you forget the most important component of any occasion: the people.
Congratulations to the winners and to all of the finalists, and a huge thank you to everyone at CEDR who helped the evening to run smoothly. See you in 2014!