About ACAN

The Academy of Court-Appointed Neutrals (ACAN) (formerly the Academy of Court-Appointed Masters) is not just an association, but an academy that aims to be the leader and voice of a profession.  “Neutral” includes a broad array of adjuncts who assist the administration of justice in any of numerous titles including what has historically been called "master" or "special master," “referee,” “special magistrate,” “discovery master or facilitator,” “settlement master,” “trial master,” “referee,” “monitor,” “technical advisor,” “auditor,” “administrator,” “court- appointed expert,” “claim administrator,” “investigator,” “liaison,” “facilitator,” and many others in a list that is both flexible and creative. 

ACAN’s members include former state and federal court judges and thought leaders on the creative use of court-appointed neutrals as tools to assist in the administration of justice and on how to develop and broaden the profession. ACAN’s members have dedicated themselves to helping:

  • People become court-appointed neutrals
  • Court-appointed neutrals become better and
  • The profession better serve justice.

ACAN began at the Special Master National Conference, co-sponsored by Mitchell Hamline College of Law and the Arbitration Forum with assistance from the Federal Judicial Center 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.

Training and Mentorship

ACAN’s goal is to reach out as broadly as possible to create a new and far more diverse professional community.  Members have the opportunity to receive unique training and mentorship from luminaries in the field.

Professional Standards

ACAN works with the American Bar Association and other organizations interested in dispute resolution to develop ethics and professional standards.  Its members agree to adhere to highest professional standards reflecting a commitment to providing service to the courts and the community that promotes just, speedy and inexpensive resolution of disputes.

Annual Meeting

The Academy has a long history of unique annual meetings with extraordinary speakers, cutting-edge discussions and opportunities to develop professional skills and contacts.

Partnership with Other Organizations

ACAN reaches out to a wide community of judges, court staff, public and private organizations, practitioners and the dispute resolution community who share the goals of improving the administration of justice and employing the latest in skills and technology to meet that end.

Benchbook with Sample Appointment Orders

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 court-appointed neutrals. The latest edition can be accessed here. The Benchbook explains various roles for court-appointed neutrals including: those who facilitate or manage discovery (including ediscovery); work with parties to settle their disputes or particular issues or avoid motion motions; coordinate matters or conduct trials; serve as expert advisors; assist with technology; monitor the implementation of orders; coordinate or issue reports and recommendations in connection with class actions; oversee transactions; administer claims; provide auditing or accounting; serve as a receiver; serve roles in criminal cases (including dealing with privilege issues in the execution of warrants or evaluating the adequacy of Brady disclosures; conduct conferences; advise concerning or conduct processings in connection with ethics; or hear matters that arise during appeals.  The publication also helps judges and lawyers (1) decide whether and when to appoint a neutral, (2) draft effective appointment orders, and (3) anticipate and effectively address ethical issues and practical concerns that arise in the work and provides templates for current and future cases.