You Can Make Stone Soup at the ABA Conference

The ABA Section of Dispute Resolution’s Young Scholars Project has invited law students and new lawyers to attend this year’s annual conference and act as reporters for certain programs at the conference.

This project is designed to engage younger people in our field and the Section.  If you see them at the conference, please introduce yourself and make them feel welcome.  You will be able to recognize them as they will have special ribbons on their nametags

The Young Scholar Reporters will use the Stone Soup process for recording and distributing insights from the program about actual dispute resolution practice.

An earlier blog post generally describes how presenters can enrich their programs by eliciting input from the audience, having reporters take notes of the discussion, and distributing summaries of the programs afterward.  Presenters are encouraged to ask questions of the audience to make programs shared learning processes, and this post describes some questions you might use.  Here’s an example of a summary of a continuing education program using this process, though presenters can write summaries in different ways and of different lengths.

How You Can Use Stone Soup in Your Program

If you are presenting at the conference and there won’t be a Young Scholar Reporter for your program, consider arranging for someone to report on your program.  (You won’t have a YSR at your program unless your program organizer already has been contacted by the Section.)

Here are easy-to-use instructions.

First, program organizers should consult with the panelists on their programs to decide if their program would be suitable for eliciting and reporting knowledge from the audience as part of a shared-learning experience.  If so, you should recruit someone to take notes during the program and discuss any particular things that should or should not be included in the notes.

Reporters should type the general points during the program into a laptop computer.  They don’t need to take verbatim notes, though if someone says something vivid, the reporters should try to type the actual words and put them in quotation marks.

If the presenters share their notes with the reporters in advance, the reporters can mostly rely on those notes rather than taking their own notes of the entire set of presentations.  This should enhance the accuracy of the notes and reports.

At the beginning of programs, the moderators should explain to the audience that notes will be taken of the discussion but will not include people’s names or other identifying information.  The audience should be aware that reports on the programs will be disseminated through a variety of platforms.

Reporters should not include anyone’s name or other identifying information other than of the presenters.  However, the notes can mention if members of the audience identify themselves as lawyers or mediators handling certain types of cases or in some general method that would add context such as including that someone identifies in a certain group, perhaps LGBTQ, if relevant to the overall discussion.

To take notes efficiently, reporters may use abbreviations in their notes during the program.  As soon as possible after the program, they should write things out so that others can understand them, but this does not need to be polished prose.

After cleaning up the notes, reporters should email them to the program organizers to write summaries (or have other presenters in the program do so) for distribution.

You may circulate a sign-up sheet at your program and email the summary to people at your program.  If you like, I would be happy to post your summary on this blog.  And you  may distribute the reports in other ways as well, for example on the Section’s LinkedIn page or other social media platforms.

One thought on “You Can Make Stone Soup at the ABA Conference”

  1. John has provided an invaluable service to the law students and young professionals participating in the Young Scholars Program. The Section is very excited to have his expertise and resources to help guide the Young Scholars and for those of you attending the Conference, please check the Conference App for the Scholars’ postings.

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