Will County Pretrial Judge Brings Expansive Settlement Record to ADR Systems - ADR Systems

ADR Systems


ADR Systems is excited to welcome Hon. Michael J. Powers, (Ret.) as a new senior mediator and arbitrator. Judge Powers served for over 17 years as a jurist in the 12th Judicial Circuit Court and dedicated most of his tenure to settling disputes through pretrial conferences. For the last five-and-a-half years, Judge Powers served exclusively in this role – a unique position among Illinois state court judges – and cultivated an expansive record of settlements on all types of Law Division cases.

“In this role as a pretrial judge, I could be completely neutral and candid with my suggestions and assessments during negotiations,” said Judge Powers, explaining that another judge would hear motions on the case or preside at trial if the parties would not settle. “Like a private mediator, I had no power over the cases, only my experience helping parties work through complex issues to settle their disputes themselves.”

Judge Powers is estimated to have settled over 1,000 civil matters as a pretrial judge, an accomplishment which has impressed upon him the value of alternative dispute resolution’s finality and certainty of outcome.

“I have seen parties experience a cathartic release when their case settles. It’s as though they can breathe again. They know the ordeal – on each side – is over. Not only that, but it also limits expenses, which can weigh parties down even more when a case drags on,” said Judge Powers. “No matter how skilled a trial attorney is, they cannot guarantee an outcome before a jury. In mediation, parties control and customize the process and they decide whether to settle rather than have a decision imposed upon them.”

During his time on the bench, Judge Powers can recall several cases which went to trial that should have been mediated instead. In two of the cases – one a premises liability matter, the other a medical malpractice dispute – the side that vehemently pushed ahead toward trial, confident they would win, lost. If they had settled, Judge Powers explained, the injured plaintiff may have received some compensation for their injuries and the sued doctor may have been able to settle the case at a figure within his policy limit.

“When cases like that come before me, the attorneys often say, ‘Judge, I don’t think we’ll be able to settle this; we’re too far apart,’” said Judge Powers. “I relish helping them prove themselves wrong. I enjoy persistently working through the case to get that agreement and bring that dispute to an end. It requires patience and creativity, but it’s worth it.”

A neutrals’ appeal and trustworthiness are in no small part rooted in that commitment to the process and the parties, explained Marc Becker, president of ADR Systems. “And on that score, Judge Powers would be tough to beat. We are excited for all the excellent work he will do to help our clients at ADR Systems. Welcome, Judge!”


Hon, Michael J. Powers, (Ret.) is uniquely positioned to excel as a mediator and arbitrator. For 14 of his 18 years on the bench in Will County, Judge Powers served as a pretrial settlement judge in the Law Division. Further, he exclusively dedicated his last six years as a jurist to settling over 1,000 personal injury and commercial cases at pretrial, cultivating robust skills as a mediator.

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ADR Systems, It’s Settled.®

My mediation at ADR Systems proved to be extremely successful, thanks to the professionalism of our mediator.  Judge Kelley adeptly settled a very complex case involving serious injuries.  His patience, knowledge of the case, and considerate treatment of the parties involved all contributed to reaching a settlement that both sides found acceptable.  Kudos to Judge Kelley and ADR Systems for an experience I hope soon to repeat.

Thomas P Cernek, Esq.Law Offices of Thomas P. Cernek & Associates