ADR Systems hosted its annual Women’s Initiative happy hour on May 11th at the Chicago Yacht Club to celebrate and encourage collaboration among women in the legal community. This event highlighted several of ADR Systems’ senior mediators and arbitrators, including Hon. Helaine L. Berger, (Ret.), Hon. Margaret A. Brennan, (Ret.), Hon. Lisa R. Curcio, (Ret.), Hon. Joan M. Kubalanza, (Ret.) and Hon. Lorna E. Propes, (Ret.).
“It’s a great way for women to network and share their knowledge and ideas,” said Judge Brennan. “The casual setting allows attorneys to learn more about various fields of law from each other.”
The happy hour also offered attorneys the opportunity to discuss the complexities of alternative dispute resolution, courtroom practice and more with our seasoned neutrals and with our newer neutrals —Judges Kubalanza and Propes, who joined ADR Systems in November 2022 and February 2023, respectively.
“Since many attorneys are specialized, attorneys can expand their network at events like these,” said Judge Kubalanza. “It’s a great place to see how ADR crosses into so many practices areas.”
ADR Systems’ Women’s Initiative Committee has hosted various happy hours and CLEs in the last few years to advance connections among women attorneys in the Chicagoland area and share insights about the interplay between law, gender, mediation and arbitration. At these events, our neutrals have spoken about the presence of implicit bias and stereotypes against women in the legal profession and its impact on the mediation process. Additionally, they have hosted a roundtable discussion at which attendees could share insights on topics emanating from the COVID-19 pandemic, such as: how to balance work, parental responsibilities and self-care; how to network with peers through digital formats; how to prepare for eventual, if only partial, returns to the office and how best to present one’s self on a videoconference.
To receive updates on future Women’s Initiative Committee events, please click here.
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 Fee 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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Hon. Margaret A. Brennan, (Ret.) served for 19 years in the Circuit Court of Cook County Chancery and Law Divisions and cultivated expansive knowledge of commercial cases such as employment matters involving discrimination and retaliatory discharge, construction and legal malpractice disputes. Colleagues commend Judge Brennan’s intelligence, persuasiveness, remarkable patience, careful case preparation and boundless energy, which contribute significantly to her success as a senior mediator and arbitrator.
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Hon. Lisa R. Curcio, (Ret.) brings an abundance of real-world experience — real estate, business and banking — to her mediation and arbitration practice. Of over 15 years on the bench, she spent 11 in the Chancery Division where she presided over claims for mechanics liens and all aspects of claims under construction contracts. Before she went on the bench, Judge Curcio represented parties in medical malpractice, premises and product liability and other personal injury matters. Judge Curcio is regarded as an energetic and pragmatic neutral who helps parties construct suitable solutions to their disputes.
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Hon. Joan M. Kubalanza, (Ret.) is a senior mediator and arbitrator concentrating in family law. Judge Kubalanza spent more than 24 years litigating commercial cases and served for 11 years as an Associate Judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County, spending five of those years in the Child Protection Division and the remaining years as a trial judge in the Domestic Relations Division. Her experience in and knowledge of family law allows her to develop innovative ideas for settling the most difficult cases.
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Hon. Lorna E. Propes, (Ret.) brings 32 years of experience as a civil trial lawyer and 12 as a trial judge to her role as a senior mediator and arbitrator. On the bench, she presided over medical negligence, personal injury, product liability, mass torts, aviation disaster, contract and FELA disputes at trial and in settlement conferences. Her goal with every case is to help litigants see the case from a realistic perspective and urge them to appreciate how compromise is not concession but a path to achieving their goals.
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