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Alternative Dispute Resolution Construction

Honoring Excellence: Andrew Ness Receives the ABA Forum on Construction Law’s 2024 Cornerstone Award

The JAMS Global Engineering and Construction Group (GEC) is proud to have among its ranks more recipients of the ABA Forum on Construction Law’s prestigious Cornerstone Award than any other ADR provider. This year, we added yet another recipient to our ranks. At the Annual Meeting of the Forum in New Orleans on April 11, Leslie King O’Neal (the 2023 Cornerstone Award recipient) presented the 2024 Cornerstone Award to Andrew Ness, a highly sought-after JAMS neutral and member of the GEC. I was privileged to be in the audience that night and am even more privileged and honored to have had both Leslie and Andy as friends and colleagues for many years.

In Leslie’s introduction speech, she noted that a cornerstone is the basic part of something on which its existence or success depends; Andy is certainly that for JAMS and for the Forum, to which he has devoted years of service, leadership and guidance. He clearly has, as the award recognizes, “rendered long-term, exceptional service to the construction industry, to the public and to the legal profession in furthering the stated goals and purposes of ABA Forum on Construction Law.”

Andy’s educational and work backgrounds are, as Leslie characterized them, “stellar.” This allowed Andy to counsel clients with great skill while he was in practice, and it guides his services as a neutral to this day. His judgment is simply the best, which is why people seek him out not just as a neutral, but as a friend. Leslie went on to describe Andy’s many interests, talents and attributes this way:

Andy is curious and has a wealth of knowledge on many topics. He is not only interested in law, science, construction and engineering; he has an encyclopedic knowledge of history. He has a deep knowledge of all types of films, and he knows the geography of the world.

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Andy’s law practice took him to the Middle East, the Far East, Europe and across the U.S. as he worked on mega projects like nuclear power plants, industrial plants and infrastructure improvements.

Those who know Andy all affirm that he is congenial and respectful to friend and foe alike. He was a laser-focused advocate who was tenacious in representing his clients; he now uses those skills as a neutral.

Andy’s acceptance speech exemplified his skills, leadership ability and integrity. He paid tribute not to what he has provided to the Forum, but to what the Forum has given him: fun, friendship and learning.

As soon as you get asked to lead anything in the Forum, from a small project to a division or committee, you encounter a complex leadership problem. It’s not the Army; you can’t just give orders to people. It’s a different kind of leadership, and one that in my view has a lot more value to the rest of your life. Everybody in the Forum is a volunteer, nobody is getting paid and everyone has lots of other commitments. So, you need to lead by example, you need to inspire and energize, and to capitalize on enthusiasm when you see it, and learn how to gently nudge and cajole when needed. People are not born with these skills. You learn them because you need them, but once learned, they help you in whatever you do, forever after.

Finally, Andy credited his involvement in the Forum with giving him much more than whatever he gave the Forum. As a mediator and arbitrator, he uses all that he has learned to aid those who enlist him as a neutral today. We are proud to celebrate Andy’s well-deserved recognition, which not only honors his past achievements, but also inspires all of us at JAMS to strive for excellence in our own practices.

Deborah S. Ballati, Esq., FCIArb is a JAMS neutral who is nationally recognized for handling complex construction, insurance coverage and related matters. She was a recipient of the Cornerstone Award from the American Bar Association (ABA) Forum on Construction Law in 2022.

This page is for general information purposes. JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness. Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More

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