In November 2022, JAMS relocated its Boston Resolution Center to One Boston Place, a LEED Gold–certified Class A tower in the heart of Boston’s Financial District along the famous Freedom Trail. This new state-of-the-art office, situated on the building’s 33rd floor, reflects a modern but timeless aesthetic, with open spaces, sleek and comfortable furnishings and surprising pops of color. It’s lit by floor-to-ceiling windows that offer inspiring vistas of the city’s Custom House, Boston Harbor, Boston Common and Charles River.
An open house was held in March to commemorate the opening of this new location. Over 100 clients, JAMS neutrals and associates attended the celebration, which honored the rich history of Boston while highlighting the world-class facility.
This new facility is “spectacular,” says Boston neutral Eric Van Loon, who joined West Coast–based JAMS in 1994 when it merged with an East Coast–based firm called EnDispute. The new space is a vivid contrast to EnDispute’s first Massachusetts office, located across the Charles River in Cambridge. (EnDispute also maintained offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Chicago.) “It’s dramatically different,” says Judge Jim Ryan, another EnDispute alumnus.
Van Loon and Ryan have fond memories of the Cambridge location, which opened in 1981. “We saw some interesting characters there,” recalls Ryan with a chuckle. “But conducting mediations and arbitrations was challenging because there was just one conference room. I can remember conducting a multiparty mediation in which I had the private caucus with one party in the one conference room and I’d have another party in a storage room with the cartons,” says Ryan. For another mediation — this one requiring video — Ryan was relegated to renting a room with a camera at a nearby Kinko’s copy center.
“In the early days, we had great neutrals and a top-notch support staff, but the facilities left something to be desired,” recalls Van Loon. “Since we moved to Boston, all three have been superb.”
In the three-plus decades since moving to Boston, the office has flourished. Before, neutrals like Van Loon and Ryan frequently found themselves either explaining to lawyers what alternative dispute resolution (ADR) was or countering the assumption that ADR was appropriate for small cases only. While building the practice, they were happy to take whatever cases they could find. Interesting cases included public-interest work, such as negotiating the terms of Superfund settlements. (“We did all sorts of appealing things, some profitable and others not so much,” says Ryan.) But during this period, to the delight of JAMS neutrals in Boston and nationwide, ADR really took off. Today the Boston Resolution Center has a roster of approximately 20 neutrals and a dozen conference rooms.
As with many businesses, COVID-19 presented significant challenges for JAMS. Before COVID, JAMS conducted mediation and arbitration sessions almost exclusively in person. But the pandemic forced it to pivot to virtual and (later) hybrid sessions using videoconferencing. For neutrals in the Boston office, this posed a challenge: Only one conference room was equipped with a camera to handle these types of sessions.
The new Boston Resolution Center solves this problem. The office boasts six conference rooms, which offer “high-end videoconferencing capabilities,” says Van Loon. “It’s not just one camera up in the corner and a long conference table with people you can barely see at the far end.” Instead, these systems use multiple cameras and video monitors to “home in on the faces of the people who are there,” Van Loon explains. “It’s ultra tech.”
Of course, technology is important, but people are what really matters. That is why the new Boston Resolution Center was designed with neutrals, associates, attorneys and clients in mind. In addition to a vibrant and inspiring atmosphere, the space offers meaningful amenities. Multiple plush seating areas and an inviting client lounge promote conversation and connection, a centrally located kitchen offers high-quality snacks and drinks, and a wellness room provides a calming environment for guests to rest and reflect between sessions. All this, says Ryan, “really affects the quality of people’s experience.”
As we look back, JAMS has always been dedicated to driving innovation in the industry. JAMS and the Boston Resolution Center have achieved many milestones over the years. “The best” Van Loon and Ryan agree, “is yet to come.”
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