On July 7, 2022, what had been the Academy of Court-Appointed Masters announced that its members had voted to change the Academy’s name to the Academy of Court-Appointed Neutrals (“ACAN”).   This past week, the ABA Judicial Division Lawyers Conference Special Masters Committee also changed its name to the “Court-Appointed Neutrals” Committee and issued for wide discussion a draft of the first ever model state rule for considering the appointment of “Court-Appointed Neutrals.”

ACAN President David Tenner explained, “the Academy cannot be more pleased with the ABA Committee’s decision both to make the same change to its name that we made recently to our own and to engage the legal community in discussing a draft model state rule for Court-Appointed Neutrals.”  Tenner added, “it is a challenge to rename a profession and an even bigger one to rethink and improve it.  The ABA Committee’s efforts are a huge step in meeting both these challenges.  We are looking forward to working with the ABA Committee to ensure that the rule is reviewed by those affected by it and, we hope, ultimately becomes a standard for states around the country.”

ACAN Executive Director Merril Hirsh, who also serves as Chair of the ABA Committee added, “the ABA Committee’s name change is a validation of what the Honorable Shira Scheindlin (ret.) said in ACAN’s own July 7 press release.  In 2002-03, Judge Scheindlin chaired the Subcommittee of the Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that drafted the last major revisions of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 53, entitled “Masters.’  She noted in the press release that the name change is ‘timely’ and that “’court-appointed neutral’ better describes the diverse community that can serve these roles and the diverse array of roles that can serve courts.’”  Hirsh added, “this draft rule, which was the result of hundreds of hours of efforts from a subcommittee chaired by Kathleen Massey, implement principles the ABA approved in its January 2019 Guidelines on the Appointment and Use of Special Masters in Federal and State Civil Litigation.  Only it does it using a name that much better reflects the assistance these professionals can provide courts and the goal of improving the administration of justice.”

People interested in learning more about these and other developments can contact Mr. Hirsh at ExecDir@courtappointedneutrals.org, (202) 448-9020.