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Los Angeles County Bar Wins National Community Service Awards
Los Angeles, August 17, 1998 - The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) has named the Los Angeles County Bar Association as one of its Summit Award  winners. The Summit Award was the top honor in the 1998 Associations Advance America Awards, which were presented to eight associations and one major corporation at the ASAE national convention in Nashville on August 17th, 1998.

Now in its eighth year, the prestigious program recognizes outstanding outreach efforts to move America forward – through education, standard-setting, ethics, business and social innovation, knowledge creation, learning, and community service.

"These nine examples are just a few of the thousands that supplement scarce public resources as they make America a safer, cleaner, and more prosperous place to live," remarked ASAE President R. William Taylor, CAE.

drslogo.gifThe Los Angeles County Bar Association was recognized for its Dispute Resolution Services’ Student Mediation Program. It was started in 1987 because of the increased time that middle and high school administrators and faculty spent on discipline and conflicts between students as well as the strong reputation of Dispute Resolution Services’ mediation and conflict resolution training program.

While the population of California’s 10-to-17 age group rises, the stories of school violence are becoming commonplace. The objective of the Student Mediation Program is to help produce an improved educational environment for Los Angeles County K-12 students by teaching youth how to solve problems together in a nonviolent and consensus-building way. The initial pilot project was deemed a success because it demonstrated that such programs decrease incidents of crime and violence on campus as well as time spent on student discipline, while increasing non-violent resolutions, building a sense of community on campus and increasing positive self esteem of participating student mediators.

This program’s successes have been well-documented in the media, including the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times Magazine, Pasadena Star-News, Santa Monica News, City TV, and elsewhere. In 1997, over 3,300 students participated – either having their conflicts resolved through peer student mediation or learning about mediation and conflict resolution skills. Among the school districts served during the last five years: Los Angeles, Santa Monica-Malibu, Beverly Hills, Pasadena, Norwalk-La Mirada, Pico-Rivera, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach Unified School Districts. The DRS Student Mediation Program receives funding from the County of Los Angeles from funds made available under the Dispute Resolution Program Special Fund, the City of Santa Monica, the Los Angeles County Bar Foundation and private donations.

"We are honored to be nationally recognized for our Student Mediation Program by such a prestigious body as the ASAE. We are receiving the ASAE Summit Award on behalf of the many dedicated student mediators and supportive teachers, administrators, parents and guardians who have committed themselves to helping young people and their families find peaceful solutions to their problems," said Hon. Helen I. Bendix, Dispute Resolution Services President.

Other Summit Awards recipients are the American Academy of Ophthalmology; American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology; American Forest & Paper Association; American Pulpwood Association; American Society of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeons; Edison Electric Institute; Kansas Association of Broadcasters; and Northwest Airlines.

Students learning mediation skills in the DRS Student Mediation Program.

The County Bar (for its LRIS - Lawyer Referral and Information Service) was also awarded a national "Award of Excellence", the ASAE Advance America Awards' second level of recognition, for SmartLawSM. SmartLawSM (213/243-1500) is a free telephone consumer law information service with 275 recorded topics. In the next few months, it will become bilingual with information in English and Spanish.

"Our SmartLawSM program has received tremendous community enthusiasm with nearly a million phone calls since its 1994 inception. We are pleased with this national recognition, as we continually strive to meet the public's needs," said Patricia Hurst Holt, directing attorney of the county bar's LRIS.

"These national awards are a testament to the Los Angeles County Bar's longstanding commitment to serving the community," said Richard Walch, the county bar's Executive Director. "We're thrilled to accept these awards on behalf of the many volunteers and staff who make these outstanding projects possible."


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