Deborah Hankinson, formerly a Justice on the Supreme Court of Texas, is a well-known mediator and arbitrator and the creator of a comprehensive set of conflict resolution services called ADR Plus. The concept behind ADR Plus is to promote opportunities for problem-solving and potential settlement at all stages of a dispute by using a variety of processes. Thus, ADR Plus includes and goes beyond Deborah’s well-established mediation and arbitration services to provide a new, broad-based resource for dealing with legal conflict.
Deborah graduated at the top of her class at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law. In 1995, she was appointed, and later elected, to serve as a Justice on the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Dallas. From 1997 to 2002, Deborah served as a Justice on the Supreme Court of Texas before returning to private practice as an appellate lawyer. While on the judiciary and as an attorney, Deborah gained exposure to numerous types of lawsuits in different industries, as well as a myriad of legal issues. This breadth of experience gives her exceptional facility when dealing with the intricacies of effective conflict resolution, whether in the role of mediator, arbitrator, special master, or consulting attorney.
An important feature of ADR Plus is litigation avoidance, which includes Deborah’s providing pre-litigation claims assessments and helping clients to actively develop early settlement strategies. Deborah also consults on settlement issues at later stages of litigation, including post-trial, and she can be retained as special settlement counsel as well. Deborah is proficient at facilitating both business and legal objectives in settlement situations.
Deborah sits on the Board of the American Arbitration Association (AAA), has trained new arbitrators, and speaks on key arbitration-related topics. As part of ADR Plus, she leverages this experience to advise clients on how to optimize operative arbitration provisions, take advantage of the arbitration process, and choose arbitrators. She also provides guidance on drafting and revising arbitration clauses.
As a mediator, Deborah is particularly renowned for unraveling complex legal matters involving multiple issues and parties, often in a series of thoughtfully-sequenced sessions with focused follow-up. As an arbitrator, Deborah has led or participated in panels deciding matters in areas including oil and gas, commercial transactions, healthcare, and more.
In 2016, Deborah was selected to the National Law Journal’s inaugural ADR Champions list. She is a Fellow of the College of Commercial Arbitrators and a member of the American Law Institute. The Texas Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates honored Deborah as the Texas Judge of the Year in 1999. In 2002, she received the Distinguished Alumni Award for Judicial Service from Southern Methodist University. In 2017, she received the Distinguished Alumni award from the University of Texas at Dallas.
While on the bench, Deborah was a driving force behind the creation of the Texas Access to Justice Commission, which works to ensure that low-income Texans have access to justice in civil legal matters. In recognition of her efforts, Deborah is the recipient of the Harold F. Kleinman Award from the Texas Equal Access to Justice Foundation and the Merrill L. Hartman Award from Legal Aid of Northwest Texas.