Judge Berger Awarded Mary Heftel Hooton Award at WBAI Annual Judicial Reception - ADR Systems

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Hon. Helaine L. Berger, (Ret.), senior mediator and arbitrator at ADR Systems, has been honored as the first retired judge and mediator to receive the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois’ Mary Heftel Hooton Award at its Annual Judicial Reception.

“The Women’s Bar Association of Illinois has helped me develop as a practitioner in the field of domestic relations, and I have made close friendships with numerous members of the profession through it,” said Judge Berger. “This organization has built a wonderful community. This award is an honor. And I am truly grateful for them both.”

The Mary Heftel Hooton Award is given annually to sitting and, now, retired judges in recognition of their “leadership, professionalism and efforts in advancing women in the law,” according to the WBAI website. The award’s namesake, Judge Hooton, served as president of the organization in 1976, when she was elected to the bench in the Circuit Court of Cook County, and established herself as a protector of the rights of children and an advocate for the advancement of women in the legal profession. Upon her death in 1993, she bequeathed her estate to the WBAI. This established the Hooton Fund, which funded the WBAI’s purchase of a permanent headquarters.

Like Judge Hooton, Judge Berger presided over domestic relations matters on the bench in the Circuit Court of Cook County and served as president of the WBAI. She has continued to serve in a myriad of roles, including speaking at Continuing Legal Education programs and serving as a panelist on the WBAI Domestic Relations Roundtable, which offers attorneys and jurists the opportunity to discuss developing issues and caselaw in the domestic relations field.

Since retiring from the bench, she has cultivated an extremely high settlement rate as a family law mediator; over 90% of her mediations have settled. This achievement reflects her innate ability to quickly relate to people, even in the most difficult and emotionally charged situations.

“Mediation keeps domestic relations disputes confidential, more civil and less costly. Two people come to the solutions that will resolve their dispute on their own, and that is better in the long run,” said Judge Berger. “It’s an intimate, emotional process, and I am committed to helping parties through it.”


Hon. Helaine L. Berger, (Ret.) is an experienced civil litigator who tried cases in Criminal, Chancery, Law and Domestic Relations before serving as a judge in Cook County’s Domestic Relations Division for 19 years. Judge Berger has been active in the legal community, including Chair of the CBA’s Professional Fees Committee and President of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois. She is now a senior mediator and arbitrator at ADR Systems where she concentrates in family law. Judge Berger is flexible and creative in her approach to mediation and has helped ADR Systems launch an innovative fast track mediation program for family law cases.

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Judge Berger speaks before the WBAI’s Judicial Reception after receiving the Mary Heftel Hooton Award.

I had another first-class service from a first-class organization. We had a very good arbitration experience with Judge Ward.  He was a terrific arbitrator who patiently listened and made all parties feel important, including my client.  And after the arbitration, Judge Ward wrote a thoughtful ruling. Thank you again – ADR Systems is the best!