Bernstein Shur Launches Conflict Evaluation and Resolution Team
Portland and Augusta, ME (May 13, 2020) – Bernstein Shur announced today the launch of its Conflict Evaluation and Resolution Team (CERT) made up of eight professional neutrals, four based in the firm’s ME offices in Portland and Augusta, and four in its Manchester, New Hampshire office. The team, led by shareholder George Burns and former Federal Bankruptcy Judge Louis Kornreich, also includes shareholders Paul McDonald, Asha Echeverria, Roy Tilsley, Kelly Gagliuso, Richard Gagliuso, and Talesha Saint-Marc.
“Every CERT member has one or more specialties, and yet every single individual could effectively serve in almost any kind of case,” said Burns, whose four decades-long career spans litigation, arbitration, and mediation for business and construction disputes.
The team offers traditional mediation and arbitration services but will also offer new approaches and products—like single-party case evaluation and a la carte issue-specific neutral involvement within a case—that have been missing over the decades of their experience.
“We have tried to create something new and special in forming a group that will instill best practices and state-of-the-art techniques. In New England at least, this kind of group collaboration is rare. It means we can offer more skills and quality,” said Kornreich, whose mediation work covers bankruptcy matters and all aspects of civil litigation. “From a practical standpoint, with eight versatile members, it also means greater availability in scheduling and more flexibility on billing.”
In ME, the team’s practitioners include McDonald, a highly accomplished trial lawyer and general counsel to the firm, and Echeverria, a leader in the construction law bar and professional and LEED certified engineer.
In New Hampshire, members include Tilsley, a seasoned business litigator and counselor; Kelly Gagliuso, a thought leader on the drafting and enforcement of construction and commercial contracts; Richard Gagliuso; a highly regarded construction litigator and neutral with an additional concentration on First Amendment and media law; and Saint-Marc, a leading trial lawyer with deep experience with the New Hampshire court system with a concentration on labor and employment law.
Burns and Kornreich’ s experience actually began 40 years ago as adversaries in the now-infamous Casco Bay Lines litigation, a controversial case that raged on for years in multiple courts, leaving the many litigants exhausted and frustrated, even when they won a round. According to Burns, “We began as adversaries and now have become friends and professional colleagues. Over the last 40 years we have come to understand when advocacy is worth its cost and when it is not. It’s not just law; it’s life. We have seen many cases, whether it’s a family business dispute or partnership divorce, where the real issue is not simply money but relationships and emotions.”
“We also believe that the timing of mediation should be much more opportunistic,” said Kornreich. “You don’t want to rush the parties into negotiations, but in our experience the parties often wait until they have spent too much time, money, and emotion before seeking a way out.”
CERT offers services that enhance advocacy and objectivity. “Fresh evaluation of a case, or part of a case, can make all the difference,” said Burns. “There is of course a place for advocacy, a treasured place when advocacy is unavoidable, but advocacy comes too often with blind spots, leading to missed chances and risks the parties are not ready for.”
About Bernstein Shur
Founded in 1915, Bernstein Shur is a New England-based law firm advising clients across the U.S. and around the world. The firm’s 125+ award-winning attorneys and professionals provide practical and innovative counsel, and practice in more than 20 key areas across a variety of industries. Bernstein Shur is known for simplifying complex issues and winning through steadfast persistence. The firm is ME’s exclusive member of Lex Mundi, the world’s leading network of independent law firms. Find out more at www.bernsteinshur.com.