2012 Awardee

HARRISBURG (April 12, 2012) - The Pennsylvania Bar Association Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee will present its Sir Francis Bacon Alternative Dispute Resolution Award to Villanova University School of Law Professor Abraham J. Gafni on May 10 during the association's Annual Meeting at the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square, Lancaster.

The Sir Francis Bacon Award recognizes an individual who has made a significant impact in bringing mediation and other forms of dispute resolution to Pennsylvania. Sir Francis Bacon (1516-1626) was a Renaissance writer and served British monarchs in a legal capacity as knight, attorney general and solicitor. He authored the essay, "Of Negotiating," which featured the frequently-quoted line, "It is generally better to deal by speech than by letter, and by the mediation of a third than by a man's self."

Since 1994, Gafni has been a professor of law at Villanova University School of Law, where he teaches courses in dispute resolution, negotiation and mediation advocacy, interviewing and counseling, trial practice and evidence. In 1994, Gafni also joined ADR Options Inc. in Philadelphia as an arbitrator and mediator. He has handled hundreds of civil cases involving professional negligence, personal injury, product liability, construction defects and commercial and employment matters.

Gafni previously served for 17 years as a Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas judge, including two years as Court Administrator of Pennsylvania. He was the Deputy District Attorney for Law of Philadelphia County supervising appellate and legislative matters. He also worked part-time for more than 20 years at Villanova University School of Law and Temple University Beasley School of Law teaching courses about professional responsibility, trial practice and the administration of criminal justice. From 1966 to 1973, Gafni maintained a private law practice. He began his career as an attorney for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Committee and then was a law clerk for Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge J. Sydney Hoffman.

From 2000 to 2007, Gafni served as president of the Arbitration Tribunal of the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims. From 2003 to 2007, he also was the chair and a member of the Appeals Panel established under an agreement among the Foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility, and Future," the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims and the German Insurance Association.

In 2002 and 2003, Gafni was chair of the Governor of Pennsylvania's Task Force on the Medical Malpractice Insurance Crisis. He currently serves on the Supreme Court's Appellate Court Procedural Rules Committee.

Active in professional and civic organizations, Gafni is a member of the PBA's Commission on Judicial Independence, is a former chair of the PBA Alternative Dispute Resolutions Committee and is a former chair of the PBA Professionalism Committee. He served as chancellor of the Louis D. Brandeis Law Society Foundation.

Gafni has written and lectured extensively on various topics of law and conflict resolution.

Gafni is a graduate of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Yeshiva University and Harvard Law School.

Founded in 1895, the Pennsylvania Bar Association strives to promote justice, professional excellence and respect for the law; improve public understanding of the legal system; facilitate access to legal services; and serve the 28,000 lawyers who are members of the association.