Porter, Thomas W., Jr., Esq.
A unique and varied background, covering many diverse areas has helped Tom Porter to gain prominence as one of the premier mediators in the Northeast. After graduating Yale University in the mid-sixties, Tom entered Union Theological Seminary where he became an ordained minister. In 1974 he received a law degree from Boston University, and joined the litigation law firm of Parker, Coulter, Daley & White. In 1983, he became a founding partner of the Boston firm of Melick, and Porter. He studied mediation at Harvard Law School. In 1997, Tom went on sabbatical to Capetown, South Africa to study the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and conflict resolution. Upon his return to Boston, Tom gradually left his litigation work behind to focus his efforts on mediation. Tom currently teaches at Boston University, lectures and mediates throughout the United States. Tom has successfully mediated many types of disputes including, catastrophic injuries, tort cases, commercial litigation, professional malpractice, product liability and employment. He also has expertise in the areas of intellectual property and sexual abuse cases.
Astor, Robert H., Esq.
Rob has over 37 years of experience, trying cases in both state and federal courts throughout Western Massachusetts. With offices in Springfield and Northampton, he concentrates in personal injury, medical practice and wrongful death cases. As a mediator and arbitrator for close to two decades, he has handled many types of cases, including personal injury, medical malpractice, business disputes and construction claims. Rob's extensive litigation experience has made him a popular choice as a neutral decision maker.
In addition, an impressive string of successful jury verdicts and settlements has brought Rob much attention over the past three decades.
Although based in Western Massachusetts, he is available to mediate cases throughout the state.
Barbalunga, Patricia A., Esq.
Patty Barbalunga’s twenty-two years of trial experience and extensive training in ADR has helped her to become one of the best known neutrals in Western Massachusetts. Her litigation work at Moriarty, Donoghue & Leja, P.C., first as an associate and then a partner, was a split of about 20% plaintiff representation and 80% insurance defense. Her outstanding record earned her the honor of being named as “Massachusetts Defense Lawyer of the Year” in 2002, along with an appearance on “Good Morning America” on the topic of premises liability. Attorney Barbalunga has served as either an arbitrator or mediator on a number of ADR panels and privately for over 20 years. She has completed “commercial arbitrator training” at AAA and taught workshops there. Her easy-going manner and friendly demeanor helps even the most entrenched litigants relax and try to work together to resolve their differences. Patty prides herself as being a “pleasant alternative to the courts”.
Dolan, Hon. James W., (Ret.)
After serving over two and a half decades in the District Court, primarily in Dorchester where he was selected as "District Court Judge of the Year in 1999", Judge Dolan took an early retirement to become a founding partner of the firm of Dolan, Connly and Flaherty (now Dolan, Connly, PC). Judge Dolan's great reputation while on the bench has led him to become one of the most popular neutrals in the Boston area. Judge Dolan's reputation as a mediator is that he gets to the heart of the matter quickly and is able to efficiently resolve even the most difficult disputes. As an arbitrator, his impeccable skills as a fact-finder and a real flair for writing a well-reasoned and thoughtful opinion have earned him accolades from both sides.
Kelley, Paul R., Esq.
Paul Kelley is a veteran trial attorney who has conducted over 150 jury trials to conclusion. In 2000, he left his litigation practice to serve full time as an arbitrator and mediator. Paul's early experiences as an assistant DA in Middlesex and Essex counties along with his wealth of knowledge and expertise in his trial practice give him a real strength in resolving difficult and emotionally charged issues. In 2016, Paul became affiliated with the Law Office of John Manoog, where he is once again doing litigation work along with his ADR practice. In addition, he is a frequent member of Middlesex Superior Court medical malpractice tribunals, which has given him a deeper grasp of issues involving medical causation and pre-existing conditions. Paul is an energetic and hard-working neutral who hangs in to try to settle even the most difficult mediations. Paul has become an extremely popular full-time arbitrator and mediator with both sides and is known for his well-reasoned opinions. Cases over the last few years have involved product liability, sexual molestation, auto tort, including bicycle and pedestrian cases, premises liability, employment (wrongful discharge) and 93A litigation.
Kenney, Christopher A., Esq.
Attorney Christopher A. Kenney, a founding partner at Kenney & Sams, PC, and a former partner in the Sherin and Lodgen Litigation Department, has extensive experience in the litigation of tort and contract claims, including all types of business disputes, employment law, construction, and real estate disputes. He has successfully represented both plaintiffs and defendants at trial before every level of the state and federal trial court system in Massachusetts. He also has substantial expertise as an appellate advocate.
Mr. Kenney was awarded an "AV" rating by the Martindale Hubbell National Law Directory, its highest rating for legal ability and professional ethics. In addition, Boston Magazine ranked Chris as one of the top 100 Lawyers in Massachusetts. He was also named a "Superlawyer" in the areas of business litigation and civil litigation defense.
Attorney Kenney was appointed to serve as a Special Assistant Attorney General, from 1999 to 2005, representing the Commonwealth in litigation matters involving construction defect claims, constitutional law and eminent domain matters.
In addition to his active litigation practice, Chris has served as adjunct faculty at Boston University School of Law. He also frequently writes and lectures for business groups, trade associations and bar associations. He is also a formally trained mediator.
Chris is active in bar and community activities. In 2017, Chris was named President of the Massachusetts Bar Association. He is the former Chair of the Trial Techniques Committee of the American Bar Association’s Tort, Trial and Insurance Section (“TIPS”), Treasurer of the Massachusetts Trial Lawyers Association, and a founding member and former Co-President of The Boston Inn of Court.
Mr. Kenney received his Bachelors Degree from Holy Cross, where he received an NCAA scholarship. He earned his law degree in 1990 from Boston University School of Law, where he was named a Paul J. Liacos scholar.
Corbett, Richard T., Esq
Richard Corbett has been a trial lawyer practicing in the field of personal injury law since January, 1977. Over the course of his career, he has tried cases involving serious and catastrophic injuries, including wrongful death, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and burn injuries in the Massachusetts Superior Courts and the United States District Court for Massachusetts. He has also argued in the Massachusetts Appeals Court and the Supreme Judicial Court. He has represented both plaintiffs and defendants. Earlier in his career, Attorney Corbett served as in-house counsel for both Travelers and Cigna where he was able to litigate countless cases and gain a deep understanding of the insurance claims handling process. Since 2003, his association as "of counsel" at McLucas & West has allowed him to handle many cases representing injured plaintiffs. Attorney Corbett also served as general counsel for the Massachusetts Guarantee Fund from 2007 to 2009. He more recently was handling a mixed caseload at Williams & Associates in Boston before retiring in 2018 to focus on ADR work. Dick is a frequent panelist in Continuing Legal Education panels. He is a NITA Certified Trial Advocacy Instructor and received Mediation certification from JAMS in 2002. Since 2002, he has devoted a considerable part of his practice to acting as a neutral Mediator and Arbitrator while continuing to act as a trial lawyer, representing both plaintiffs and defendants.
Marra, Robert A., Jr., Esq.
Attorney Marra has over 35 years of litigation experience in the District and Superior courts, arbitration hearings, and case mediation and has acted as an arbitrator and mediator since 2007. He recently retired after 16 years as Director of Massachusetts House Counsel for Metropolitan Property & Casualty Insurance Company. Early in his career, Bob started out in a four-member general practice firm, handling mainly plaintiff personal injury cases. From 2000 to 2005 he also served as City Solicitor for the City of Revere, where he is now Chief of Staff to the City's Mayor. In his capacity in municipal government, he has earned valuable skills in municipal law, zoning, and negotiation.
Attorney Marra’s broad and diverse legal career positions him to have what it takes to be a competent and fair decision maker. Bob’s innate ability to explain complex situations in a clear, concise way, combined with his limitless patience has earned him praise as a mediator for personal injury and coverage cases, while his diverse experience, attentiveness, and writing ability produce well-reasoned and equitable arbitration decisions.
Stern, Jeffery S., Esq.
Following a distinguished career as a trial lawyer with one of Boston’s oldest and finest litigation firms, Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen, P.C. (SRBC), Jeff is now devoting all his professional time to ADR. During a legal career, spanning over forty years, Jeff tried more than fifty cases to verdict, including product liability (for both plaintiffs and defendants), medical malpractice (for both plaintiffs and defendants), professional liability, insurance coverage disputes, a wide variety of business disputes and probate matters. He was also a “lawyer’s lawyer” representing attorneys in law firm break-ups and bar disciplinary matters.
For the last twenty years, Jeff integrated an active ADR practice into his professional career. He has mediated or arbitrated well over 500 cases. His ADR practice has featured the same breadth as his litigation work, with a particular emphasis on all types of personal injury cases and business matters, but also including employment, coverage issues (often embedded in tort cases) construction and probate.
Jeff has lectured and written widely on trial practice topics and ADR. He has been a guest lecturer at the law schools of Harvard, BC, BU and Northeastern. He was selected as a Distinguished Fellow of the American College of Civil Trial Mediators and is a member of the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals. Jeff serves on the ADR committee of the Mass Bar Association and has been a “Massachusetts Super Lawyer” in ADR and listed in Best Lawyers in America in ADR for over ten years.
A graduate of Amherst College, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa and Harvard Law School, cum laude, Jeff is a Vietnam veteran and served as a military intelligence officer in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1971.
Velis, Hon. Peter A. (Ret)
Judge Peter Velis graduated Boston University in 1965 with a degree in Public Communications and went on to earn his Juris Doctor degree from Suffolk Law School in 1969. Shortly after passing the bar, he opened practices both in Boston and his native Westfield.
In 1973, he was elected to the Legislature as a State Representative for the Fifth Hamden District where he served until 1978. While a legislator, Peter served on the Judiciary Committee and was co-author of the Court Reform Act of 1978.
In 1978, Judge Velis founded the law firm of Velis & Ziter that handled civil and criminal matters in both state and federal courts. Despite a heavy caseload, he generously gave his time as a panelist for numerous continuing legal education programs.
In November 1998, he was nominated as an Associate Justice of the Superior Court. During his time on the bench, Judge Velis sat in many of the Superior Courts, including Worcester, Barnstable, Franklin, Berkshire, Hamden and Hampshire counties. During his time on the bench, Judge Velis served as a valued colleague and mentor to numerous legal interns. He earned universal admiration for his tireless work habits, exemplary judicial demeanor, fairness, patience and courtesy by all who spent time in his courtroom.
Upon his retirement in the fall of 2012, Peter returned to Westfield to serve as an adjunct Professor of Criminal Evidence at Westfield State University