Thomas J. Stipanowich, Esq., is an experienced commercial and construction arbitrator and mediator who specializes in large and complex cases in the United States and internationally. He has arbitrated cases under the rules of major global administering bodies, as well as non-administered and ad hoc arbitration. He has a great deal of experience as chair, wing arbitrator and sole arbitrator, and on occasion has successfully played mixed roles (arb-med, mediation followed by last-offer arbitration). He also has experience as a federal court special master, early neutral evaluator and partnering facilitator.
Stipanowich holds the William H. Webster Chair in Dispute Resolution and is professor of law at Pepperdine University School of Law, where he has promoted more effective mediation and arbitration practice as leader of the famed Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution during many of its most successful years. Stipanowich began his career as a construction lawyer at a national firm and served as an advocate and consulting attorney on construction and commercial cases even after becoming a law professor. Stipanowich came to Pepperdine in 2006 after serving as the president and CEO of the International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution (CPR Institute), a thought leader in the global dispute resolution field, before which he enjoyed a long career as an attorney, a chaired law professor and a dispute resolution professional. He is widely known internationally in the dispute resolution field; he has affiliations with leading institutions in Germany, India, China and Brazil, and is listed on the arbitrator panels of several Chinese arbitration commissions.
Stipanowich has been the recipient of a number of the dispute resolution field's highest honors, and is widely recognized for his expertise in arbitration law, commercial arbitration procedures, ethical rules and related practice issues. He has co-authored, edited and led the development of national standards and highly-regarded practice guidance on dispute resolution, and is a sought-after speaker and trainer. Stipanowich has conducted workshops for dozens of leading corporations and law firms, and has trained arbitrators or mediators for many leading ADR institutions, including the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the Straus Institute.
He was an advisor for revisions to the Uniform Arbitration Act, the Uniform Mediation Act, and the Restatement (3rd) of American Law on International Arbitration. He also served as public member and chair of the Securities Industry Conference on Arbitration and was actively involved in the revision of the Code of Ethics for Arbitrators in Commercial Disputes, as well as revisions to several of the leading national and international arbitration rules. He was also chief drafter of the College of Commercial Arbitrators Protocols on Expeditious, Cost-Effective Commercial Arbitration. In 1991 he co-founded a regional mediation center that is still in existence. He frequently serves as an expert or consultant regarding arbitration law, procedure and practice.
ADR Experience and Qualifications
- Experienced arbitrator and mediator of a variety of complex commercial cases, such as construction disputes involving power plants, process plants and commercial buildings; commercial disputes in the public and private sectors; and international arbitration under the rules of major administering bodies as well as non-administered and ad hoc arbitration
- An expert with broad and deep knowledge of and experience with arbitration law, rules and procedures, ethical standards and arbitration practice; author or editor of many practice-oriented works and active participant in the development of leading standards governing arbitration and mediation practice
- Internationally recognized thought leader focused on more effective arbitration and mediation practice who has led two prominent practice-oriented programs:
- Chaired professor of law at Pepperdine University School of Law, leading the famed Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution (and teaching or training on negotiation, mediation, arbitration practice, international commercial arbitration and international dispute resolution, contracts, commercial law and remedies)
- Former president and CEO of the Manhattan-based International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution (CPR Institute).
- Recipient of two of the dispute resolution field’s highest honors, the D’Alemberte/Raven Award from the American Bar Association’s Dispute Resolution Section (2008) for outstanding contributions to the field, as well as CPR Institute’s James F. Henry Award (2016) for “outstanding achievement by individuals for distinguished, sustained contributions to the field of ADR”; affiliations with or recognition by leading law schools and institutions around the world
- Chaired an arbitration panel in a complex commercial case under a long-term contract involving two major energy companies, with claims and counterclaims in excess of $100 million; as chair, managed extensive discovery requests and ruled upon numerous pre-hearing motions and discovery disputes
- Served as one of three preliminary arbitrators in a novel process under an international joint venture among major energy companies; appointed to develop a list of recommended candidates from whom a single final arbitrator would be chosen to conduct a hearing and decide disputes
- Served as mediator who helped parties employ novel process solutions; in one case, overcame impasse by mediating an agreement by the parties to participate in final-offer arbitration
- Successfully mediated a variety of complex construction disputes involving power plants, process plants and commercial buildings; helped to craft creative business solutions in order to maintain or improve continuing business relationships
- Acted as a “standing mediator” on complex construction projects, helping parties resolve job issues as they arose in order to avoid major disputes and delays and help meet schedules and budgetary goals
- Served as a party-appointed arbitrator on a three-member arbitration panel addressing issues associated with the termination of a large international contractor on a major airport project; arbitration was conducted under the International Chamber of Commerce Rules; matter involved complex procedural issues and critical path issues, with emphasis on steel construction
- Chaired tripartite arbitration in a multi-party, multi-million-dollar construction case involving a major project at one of the nation’s busier international airports; as chair, exerted a firm hand in establishing and maintaining the arbitration process schedule and making sure that business principals for all parties took part in the planning of the schedule and other key decisions; led the panel in preparing an extensive reasoned award covering numerous claims and counterclaims (delays, differing site conditions, changes), including a complex dispute surrounding the termination for cause of a major subcontractor
- Served as sole arbitrator on a complex, multiparty construction defect arbitration involving more than three dozen counsel