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ATTORNEY BRINGS ADR TO INDIA A backlog of 21 million cases, some as old as 15 years, may be every lawyer’s and judge’s nightmare. But for Fenwick & West partner Victor Schachter, it’s all in a day’s work. The 63-year-old litigator has made trips to India � the most recent just last month � to help the country’s courts deal with their epic backlogs. In late August, Schachter made his second trip, to Delhi and Bangalore, as part of a U.S. delegation exploring the development of three new ADR pilot projects to handle IP cases: A court-sponsored mediation program; a lawyer neutral mediation and dispute resolution program; and a private mediation and ADR program. “The courts want to introduce a U.S.-style model that will expand a larger group of people that can handle these cases,” Schachter said. The short visit went much better than his first foray, late last year, with the nonprofit Institute for the Study and Development of Legal Systems. That was a two-month stay to help the Supreme Court of India establish a mediation and alternative dispute resolution program to unclog congested dockets. Schachter and his wife lived in Delhi, where he lost seven pounds, suffered through gastrointestinal problems and other medical misadventures while working in India’s congested courtrooms. But it was worth it, he says. Schachter helped train judges to resolve disputes outside the court system and trained experienced lawyers to become mediators. The program has handled more than 2,000 cases since starting last year � more than 1,500 of them since Schachter’s first trip ended in January. The nascent program boasts a 70 percent success rate. “Many of these cases have been pending for many years and they go over the entire scope of litigation disputes, business, matrimonial, property, labor, the whole gamut,” Schachter said. “It was extraordinarily rewarding to see the dispute resolution model implemented in a way that gives many disenfranchised people access to justice.” One of the many challenging aspects of Schachter’s job, however, is trying to implement ADR programs that are culturally sensitive. For example, in drawing up a mediation system for matrimonial disputes Schachter had to dream up a system that includes extended families. “We had to learn to work within the culture and we had to come up with a system that would involve brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers and grandparents,” Schachter said. He’s not done yet. Schachter plans to go back to India later this year. “So much still has yet to be done,” he said.

Xenia P. Kobylarz

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