Photo of Francis McGovern

Francis McGovern

Professor, Duke University School of Law

Francis McGovern has the unusual ability to integrate practical experience, abstract thinking, and teaching. This ability has earned him the "triple crown" in the legal community as premier practitioner, scholar, and teacher in the field of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Francis was among the first in the nation to write about and to use ADR techniques to avoid or to improve the litigation process. Two decades later, the federal judiciary, many state courts, and institutions around the world, such as the United Nations, all seek his guidance on practical and conceptual issues in dispute resolution.

As a court-appointed special master or neutral expert, he has developed solutions in most of the significant mass claim litigation in the U.S., including the DDT toxic exposure litigation in Alabama, the Dalkon-Shield controversy, and his current work involving the silicone gel breast implant litigation. Francis pioneered new roles for court-appointed special masters as case managers and settlement masters. As a case manager, he organizes the pretrial administration of a case, and uses ADR techniques to help the parties agree on efficient discovery approaches and schedules. The role of settlement master has often required that he develop innovative ways to implement potential settlements. In the Dalkon Shield litigation, he helped organize and administer the distribution of the $2.4 billion trust established to compensate 100,000 women who had sued the maker of the device. To facilitate his efforts, Francis has created very sophisticated computerized models of the valuation of these massive claims. By estimating what the claims are worth to the plaintiffs or will cost the defendants, his models narrow the range of reasonable settlement amounts and help parties to settle more quickly.