ACAM is an academy, not an association. While an association is a group of people joined together for a common purpose, an academy is a group of authorities and leaders in a field of scholarship, art, or the like who promote and dictate standards, prescribe methods, and suggest new ideas. ACAM is the only national organization dedicated to furthering the understanding of the bench and bar on the use of court adjuncts, special masters, court monitors, judicial referees, or masters of chancery, collectively referred to herein as “special masters.” All of ACAM’s members have acted as special masters. Many of ACAM’s members are former state and federal court judges. ACAM is a leader in promoting scholarship and research regarding the use of special masters and alternative dispute resolution. ACAM members are thought-leaders in the field. In short, when it comes to experienced and expert special masters, we are the Academy.
The first National Conference for Special Masters was held in October 2004 at the William Mitchell College of Law, with assistance from the Federal Judicial Center and the National Arbitration Forum. The conference led to the creation of ACAM.
The Academy of Court Appointed Masters (ACAM) began at the Special Master National Conference, co-sponsored by the William Mitchell College of Law and the National Arbitration Forum in October 2004. The primary goals of this historic gathering were to discuss and promote special master work and to create a national association of judicial adjuncts. The faculty included Ken Feinberg, Francis McGovern, Judge Michael Davis, Brad Jesson, and Martin Quinn.
Thirty-four masters from around the country attended and formed the Academy. The genesis of this new organization came about through the efforts of Professor Roger Haydock who served as a federal court master. He found it helpful to learn from the experiences of other masters and wished there was a better way to locate and network with these judicial adjuncts. Judge Michael Davis suggested Professor Haydock do something about it, and he recruited David Herr, Lew Remele, and Sol Schreiber to create a non-profit organization which became the Academy.
The original mission of ACAM remains the same today: to promote the effective use of masters in federal and state court cases when needed to assist the courts, parties, and their lawyers. ACAM began with a vision to educate the public and the courts with respect to the use and value of special masters. This vision has evolved to provide judges, lawyers, parties, and other judicial adjuncts with useful information about masters. There are currently 136 ACAM members nationwide, all of whom are very experienced and highly esteemed special masters.
A president and executive committee manage the objectives of ACAM. A number of prominent masters have succeeded Roger Haydock as the Academy’s president including: Francis McGovern (2006), Sol Schreiber (2007), David Herr (2008), Martin Quinn (2009), Richard Levie (2010), Lewis Remele (2011), Catherine Yanni (2012), and David Cohen (2013), and Marina Corodemus (2014). Cary Ichter is the current president and John Upchurch is the president elect. Executive committee members have greatly contributed to the Academy’s success, as well as many members working on a variety of committees including: Publications/Website, Membership, CLE/Programs, and Judicial Outreach. ACAM administrator Lynn Turner provides further invaluable support.
The Academy currently focuses on expanding the effective use of masters through several programs:
The Academy has held productive annual meetings each year of its existence. Meetings are usually held during the early spring months, typically in warmer climates. The 2015 Annual Meeting will be held in Amelia Island, Florida. These annual meetings include a CLE program and an opportunity for members to network. Keynote speakers provide new and insightful ideas.
One of the Academy’s key accomplishments is the production of a Benchbook, providing invaluable information to judges and lawyers regarding the best use of special masters. The latest edition can be accessed on the ACAM website (see below). The Benchbook explains various types of masters including: Settlement Masters, Discovery Masters, Electronic Discovery Masters, Coordinating Masters, Trial Masters, Expert Advisors, Technology Masters, Monitors, Class Action Masters, Transaction Masters, Claims Administrators, Auditor/Accountants, Receivers, Criminal Case Masters, Conference Judges, Ethics Masters, and Appellate Masters. The publication also helps judges and lawyers (1) decide whether and when to appoint a master, (2) draft effective appointment orders, and (3) anticipate and effectively address ethical issues and practical concerns that arise in special master work.
ACAM bestows awards on professionals who have advanced the use of masters. The Civil Justice Award recognizes judges and other professionals who have championed the use of masters. Past recipients include Sheila L. Birnbaum and Hon. Paul Friedman. The Francis McGovern Writing Award recognizes outstanding authorship of articles regarding the efficient, economical, and effective use of masters. Past recipients include Robert Rabin and Ed Sherman.
ACAM, in partnership with HB Litigation Conference Services, sponsored and presented an educational webinar on Successfully Working with Special Masters in the fall, 2014. The webinar was free to all members, lawyers, and judges and covered topics including: the types of cases warranting the use of a special master, how lawyers can best "work" with special masters, and ethics and best practices for special masters. Future webinars will be offered.
One of the original goals of the Academy was to provide members with easy access to other masters throughout the country and to be able to learn from each other about mastering. Academy members are able to contact each other and discuss how they can enhance their knowledge and special master skills, while strictly maintaining the confidentiality and privacy of parties and cases. Procedures, processes, and protocols used in previous cases often provide a template for current and future cases.
ACAM continues to grow. Membership is open to any lawyer or former judge who has been appointed and served as a master in a federal or state court case. We encourage members to recruit additional members. We invite non-members to join us if you meet these criteria.
The Academy has established itself as the premiere special master national organization. We look forward to the next ten years to further promote the just, speedy and inexpensive resolution of disputes. You may obtain more information about the Academy by contacting our members or from our website: www.courtappointedmasters.org.