Noah J. Hanft

Mediator, Arbitrator, ADR Advisor

347.686.8450
nhanft@acumenadr.com

Noah J. Hanft is an independent arbitrator and mediator recognized globally for his ability to find the most effective and efficient ways to resolve all manner of disputes. His career experiences as an advocate, a neutral, and the President and Chief Executive Officer of a leading global dispute resolution organization have provided him with a unique perspective and deep understanding of dispute resolution.

Mr. Hanft served as General Counsel of MasterCard Worldwide for 13 years. In addition to overseeing all legal and regulatory matters, he had responsibility for public policy, compliance, and government regulations and served as Corporate Secretary. During his tenure, he navigated the company through a host of legal and regulatory challenges, negotiating resolutions of a vast array of disputes, including multiple class actions and commercial, intellectual property, and employment disputes. He also gained a reputation as a pragmatic business lawyer, successfully negotiating many commercial transactions, acquisitions, and joint ventures. Mr. Hanft was an early adopter of mediation and personally mediated settlements of many of the company’s major business conflicts. He led the strategy that transformed the structure of MasterCard from a not-for-profit association to a well established and highly regarded public company and personally handled the negotiations between stakeholders around the world to secure approval for the company’s highly successful IPO. This included managing the complex securities issues related to the structure of the transaction.

In 2012, the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), after considering 3,500 nominations, named Mr. Hanft General Counsel of the Year. In presenting the award, the ACC quoted from one of the submissions in support of Mr. Hanft, which read: “ It is rare to see a General Counsel orchestrate the legal counseling of a multinational corporate giant with such a unique blend of Brooklyn street-smarts, rigorous legal acumen, realistic business judgement, and sense of humor. The strength and efficiency of MasterCard’s legal department is a testament to Noah Hanft’s leadership, vision and high ethical standards.” In recognition of his success as General Counsel, Mr. Hanft’s responsibilities grew to encompass many business functions including licensing, franchise development, information security, fraud prevention, philanthropy, and diversity.

Mr. Hanft’s enthusiasm for ADR led him to begin serving as a mediator in 2012, while still MasterCard’s General Counsel. That same passion for dispute resolution was a critical driver in Mr. Hanft’s decision to take on the leadership of the International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution ("CPR") as President and Chief Executive Officer. In this role, which he held from 2014 until July of 2019, Mr. Hanft led a globally recognized preeminent ADR provider and thought leader. During his tenure, the organization was widely recognized and awarded for innovation and development of best practices in both arbitration and mediation. Mr. Hanft is a frequent author and speaker on many topics related to arbitration, mediation, and the management of business conflict. For his leadership in encouraging the adoption of mediation, Mr. Hanft was honored in May of 2019 with the Sidney Lezak Award of Excellence by the International Academy of Mediators (IAM).

Mr. Hanft is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and is certified as a mediator by the Center for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR). He is an arbitrator and mediator on the CPR Panel of Distinguished Neutrals where he serves on the General Counsel, Financial Services, Employment and Trademark panels. Mr. Hanft also serves on the AAA Commercial Arbitration panel, is both a FINRA arbitrator and mediator, and is also on the NAM, Second Circuit, Southern District, New York and New York State Commercial Division Mediation panels. Mr. Hanft has successfully mediated a wide breadth of cases including commercial, employment, intellectual property, securities, and civil rights cases.

Mr. Hanft began his career as a trial attorney with the Legal Aid Society in New York City and served on the board of the Society for many years. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Noah Hanft began his legal career as a trial attorney with the NYC Legal Aid Society, Criminal Division, where he tried numerous cases to verdict. He shifted his practice to intellectual property after receiving an LL.M. from New York University School of Law in Trade Regulations and joined the law firm, Ladas & Parry. He practiced there for three years, counseling and litigating on behalf of both U.S. and foreign corporations on trademark and copyright matters.

Mr. Hanft joined MasterCard International in 1984 where he would spend 27 years. During his tenure, he was promoted numerous times, ultimately becoming General Counsel, Corporate Secretary and Chief Franchise Officer. Mr. Hanft served as General Counsel for 13 years and served on the company’s Executive Committee as well as its Operating Committee.The range of his experience extended to virtually every facet of the business and included direct responsibility for law, regulatory affairs, public policy, compliance and government relations. From 2007-2014 Mr. Hanft managed a consolidated business unit of over 500 employees, Law & Franchise Integrity, with employees all over the world.The unit’s responsibilities included fraud prevention and detection, licensing, franchise rules, information security, diversity, philanthropy, law, compliance, public policy, privacy, government relations and regulatory affairs.

Mr. Hanft was deeply involved in all aspects of his team’s work, but was personally responsible for the following:

  • Negotiation of acquisition of Europay International S.A., MasterCard’s European affiliate, including plan of merger and share exchange and integration agreement; transaction involved converting company from not for profit association to private share corporation
  • Development and implementation of global strategy to convert from private share corporation to publicly traded S&P100 corporation through successful IPO after obtaining approval of Board of Directors, SEC and hundreds of financial institution shareholders around the world
  • As a component of IPO, created a Canadian charitable foundation (grew to being the largest private foundation in Canada), vested with 10% equity interest in corporation with a charitable purpose of supporting micro-finance in Africa and youth and education
  • Formulation of strategies to resolve competitor disputes alleging antitrust violations relating to issuance of payment cards and successful negotiation of mediated settlements
  • Leadership of corporate efforts to address payment industry challenges relating to pricing and other industry practices and negotiation of multi-billion dollar mediation of MDL class action alleging antitrust violations
  • Formulation of a legal strategy relating to contractual dispute with FIFA over exclusive rights to World Cup and breach of right of first refusal; negotiated multi-million dollar settlement agreement following successful management of parallel proceedings in arbitration and mediation
  • Management and resolution of complex commercial, antitrust, employment, intellectual property and other litigations world-wide; built global litigation team, renamed Dispute Resolution Group, and implemented early dispute resolution and early case assessment protocols
  • Development and implementation of privacy and data usage policies; created Chief Privacy Officer position and elevated importance of privacy, data usage and data protection across all corporate offices
  • Development and management of global regulatory strategy to proactively strengthen regulatory relationships and defend multiple challenges; built a strong team of experienced regulatory lawyers and public policy professionals and dramatically enhanced corporate stature throughout the world
  • Development of a state of the art on and off-line compliance and ethics program, including robust code of conduct and whistleblower program.
  • Created program to drive ethics awareness, including designation of “Ethics Champions” in business and legal functions and in offices throughout the world to drive awareness of ethics and compliance as a fundamental component of doing business
  • Development of securities policies relating to purchase and sale of stocks, restrictions on Insiders and other rules post-IPO
  • Advised Board of Directors on Sarbanes Oxley and vast array of governance issues; worked with CEO following IPO to recruit new Board of Directors
  • Development of patent filing and protection program, including development of rewards Program for company inventors.

Mr. Hanft left MasterCard in 1990, when he was recruited by AT&T to join AT&T Universal Card Services as Senior Vice President & Assistant General Counsel. In that role he counseled the business on Fair Credit Reporting Act, Regulation Z of the Truth In Lending Act and other lending related matters and was responsible for the successful defense of legal and regulatory challenges initiated by competitors before the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Communications Commission and the Georgia Banking Commission, as well as a major trademark infringement lawsuit. Mr. Hanft rejoined MasterCard in 1993 as Senior Vice President and U.S. General Counsel.

Work History

  • Arbitrator, Mediator and Dispute Resolution Advisor, co-founder AcumenADR LLC, 2019-
  • President and CEO, International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution, 2014-2019
  • General Counsel and Chief Franchise Officer, MasterCard Worldwide, 2001-2014
    • Member, Executive Committee and Operating Committee
    • Board Secretary, 2001-2011
  • General Counsel, U.S., MasterCard Worldwide, 1993-2001
    • Secretary, U.S. Board of Directors, 1993-2001
  • Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, AT&T Universal Services, 1993-2001
  • Vice President and Counsel, MasterCard International, 1984-1990
  • Associate, Ladas & Parry, 1982-1984
  • Trial Attorney, Legal Aid Society, N.Y., 1977-1982

Dispute Resolution Experience & Representative Matters

As an Advocate: In addition to having managed and resolved scores of proceedings including commercial, intellectual property, insurance, antitrust, employment and many other disputes:

  • Worked with advertising and marketing department to develop advertising campaign aimed at demonstrating generic nature of well-known registered trademark leading to a determination that competitor trademark registration was invalid
  • Developed strategy to resolve competitor disputes involving allegations of antitrust violations relating to issuance of payment cards; analyzed market impact resulting from modification of business practices and negotiated mediated settlement
  • Negotiated multi-billion-dollar mediated settlement of antitrust class action involving allegations of an unlawful tying of credit and debit card acceptance and anti-competitive business practices
  • Led corporate efforts to address payments industry challenges related to pricing and other industry practices; including negotiated multi-billion dollar mediated settlement agreement of class action alleging price fixing and other antitrust violations by banks and credit card networks
  • Negotiated resolution of contractual dispute involving exclusive rights to FIFA World Cup sponsorship, following parallel proceedings in arbitration and litigation
  • Resolved a theft of trade secrets dispute related to an affinity marketing program through novel new business venture as part of a mediated settlement
  • Negotiated resolution of numerous employment disputes involving senior executives with employment contracts in jurisdictions throughout the world

As a Neutral managed:

  • Complex securities/ commercial dispute brought by a wealthy family fund against the principals of a failed hedge fund alleging violations of Section 10(b) of the Securities Act, fraudulent inducement, negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment
  • Maritime Insurance dispute between carriers involving grounding of oil barges
  • Sexual harassment claims brought by female construction worker against large construction corporation
  • Trademark dispute brought by manufacturer against distributor of grey goods alleging claims of dilution, false designation of origin and false advertising with counterclaims of commercial disparagement
  • Age discrimination claim brought by teacher against major educational institution
  • Disability discrimination and retaliation claim brought by schoolteacher against Roman Catholic Archdiocese
  • Complex multi-party construction contract dispute involving waste-water treatment and disposal facility
  • Dispute between investment bank and large on-line job placement firm relating to entitlement for compensation under contract calling for assistance in exploring acquisition opportunities and other strategic options
  • Insurance dispute between meat company and carrier arising from failure to honor policy for damages caused by fire alleged to be arson
  • Claim for damages against credit bureaus for Fair Credit Reporting Act violations
  • Dispute between investor and large brokerage firm alleging negligence in investment decisions
  • Disability discrimination and retaliation claim by employee of major department store
  • Sexual preference discrimination claim by schoolteacher against Board of Education

6/11/19 - "The Role of the NYS Court in International Arbitration," New York International Arbitration Center

4/28/19 - “The Future of ADR,” CPR Annual Europe Conference, London

3/25/19 - Arbitration 2019- “Perspectives on Best Practices in Arbitration” Fordham Law School

2/4/19 - “The Future of ADR,” CPR Canada Conference, Toronto

1/31/19 - “ADR and Diversity”- New York Law School

12/10/18 - “The Balance Between Efficiency and Justice in Arbitration- AAA/ICDR Center, NY

12/3/18 - Faculty - CPR Advanced Arbitration Training - Baker & McKenzie

10/30/18 - “Breaking Impasse in Negotiations,” Intl Association for Contract & Commercial Management,  St. Petersburg, Fla

10/18/18 - “Driving Mediation in Arbitration”- American University School of Law, Washington, D.C.

5/31/18 - “Make ADR Great Again,” CPR European Congress, London

5/17/18 - “Setting the Stage for A Successful Arbitration,” Akerman, Miami

3/22/18 -“Underutilization of Mediation,” NYS Bar  Association, Fordham Law School

3/1/18 - “Prevention is the New Resolution: Next-Generation Practices, Solutions and Tools- CPR Annual Meeting, Atlanta, Ga.

 3/1/18- “ADR in the Wake of the #MeToo Movement”- CPR Annual Meeting, Atlanta, Ga.

2/8/18 - Ethics Issues in Mediation,” Thomson Reuters Webinar

10/31/17 - “The Power of Mediation.” International Center for Ethno-Religious Mediation, NY

10/26/17- “Diversity and ADR,” New York Law School

10/23/17 - “Globalism and International Arbitration,” Atlas Arbitration Conference, Atlanta, Ga.

9/22/17 - “A Choice Between Mediation & Madness,” International Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy, NY

3/19/16 - “Resolving Disputes With Governments,” Amsterdam, Holland

3/18/16 - “Where Mediation and Arbitration Intersect, Amsterdam, Holland

3/24/16 - “Corporate Risk,” International Association of Defense Counsel

3/24/17 - “Innovation In Arbitration,” CMS, London

1/12/17- “Consumer and Employment Arbitration,” Garibaldi American Inns of Court, New Jersey

11/18/16 - “Arbitration in Financial Services,” Dublin International Arbitration Day, Dublin, Ireland

10/31/16 - “Role of In-house Counsel in Effective Resolution of Disputes, CPR conference, Eversheds, London

10/6/16- “Ethics Issues in International Arbitration,” Thomson Reuters Webinar

6/21/16 - “Current Issues for Users of Mediation.” CPR Conference, Toronto, Canada

3/24/16 - “Relational Dispute Resolution,” West Coast GC Forum,

10/29/15 “Can I Sue? Your Policy May Not Allow It,” Anderson Kill, NY

10/26/15 - “To Litigate or not to Litigate,” West Legal Ed. Center, NY

7/14/15 - “Winning Settlement Strategies in Litigation,” NYC Bar Association, NY

10/2/13 - “The Benefits of Early Dispute Resolution,” Argyle Human Leadership Forum, NY

10/5/10 - “Ethics For Today’s Trial Counsel,” ALM Litigation Summit, NY

Selected Publications

8/8/19 -  "Interview on WorkplaceTV"- The Granderson Group

5/16/19 - “The Future and Development of Mediation,” – London, U.K. (Video)

11/27/17 - “Application of Corporate Dispute Resolution to World Conflicts”- New York Law Journal

3/20/17 - “Making Diversity Happen” - New York Law Journal

7/9/16 - “Turning Conflict to Commerce”- CEO.com

3/2/16 - “Future of ADR in Business”- McGill Journal of Dispute Resolution

11/13/15 - “A New Scarlet ‘A’? Not So Fast - Law 360

4/16/15 - “A Winning Strategy: Redefine The Term” - Law 360

3/24/15 - “10 Arbitration Myths and Realities for Corporate Counsel”- Inside Counsel Magazine

10/13/14 - “In Arbitration, Judge Thyself, Not the Process”- Corporate Counsel Magazine

Quoted or Referenced in the Following:

6/17/19 - "Former General Counsels of MasterCard & 3M Create AcumenADR LLC to Serve as Arbitrators and Mediators and Offer Dispute Resolution Services" - PR Newswire

6/19/19 - "Former in-house counsel launch New York arbitrator boutique" - Global Arbitration Review (subscription)

6/17/19 - "Former MasterCard, 3M General Counsel Form New ADR Firm" - New York Law Journal, Law.com, Corporate Counsel

6/17/19 - "Former MasterCard, 3M GCs Start Dispute Resolution Venture" - Law360 (subscription)

6/19/19 - "Alternative career for two general counsel" - Global Legal Post

6/4/19 - A Conversation with Noah Hanft (CEDR-Video)

4/10/19 - “CPR Gives New Life to Arbitration” - CDR Magazine

3/18/19 - “360 Degrees of Perspective with Noah Hanft” - Kluwer Arbitration Blog

3/1/19 - “Moving the Needle on Diversity: A Conversation with Noah Hanft” -  MCCA Diversity and the Bar

12/23/18 - “5 Dispute Resolution Resolutions for Business in 2019” - CPR

12/17/18 - “Jay-Z Adds Star Power to Diversity Concerns” - Law 360

5/21/18 - “Supreme Court Approves Class Action Waivers” - Society for Human Resources Management

1/29/18 - “3 Misconceptions GCs Hold About International Arbitration” - Law 360

5/26/17 - “Leading General Counsel Mull Over Mediation” - Corporate Counsel

6/15/17 - “NLJ Honors Noah Hanft As ADR Champion”- National Law Journal

8/25/16 - “Noah Hanft on What’s Next in Conflict Resolution” - Levick Blog

5/31/16 - “Can Mediation Take Hold in Europe?”- GC Grapevine

  • Fellow, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
  • Member, Board of Directors, International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution (“CPR”) 2014-present
  • Member, Board of Directors, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, 2012-present
  • Member of CPR’s Panel of Distinguished Neutrals (Arbitrator and Mediator -General Counsel, Financial Services, Trademark and Employment panels)
  • Member of Commercial Panel, American Arbitration Association
  • Member of roster of FINRA arbitrators
  • Member of roster of FINRA mediators
  • Member Second Circuit Mediation Panel
    • Member Mediation Advisory Committee
    • Diversity Subcommittee Chair
  • Member N.Y.S. Commercial Division Mediation Panel
  • Member, International Arbitration Club of New York
  • Member, N.Y.S. Bar Association, Dispute Resolution Section
  • Chair, Diversity Committee
  • Member, American Bar Association, Dispute Resolution Section
  • Member, N.Y.C. Bar Association, International Commercial Disputes Committee
  • Bodhala, Board of Advisors, 2014-present
  • Member, Board of Directors, Legal Aid Society, N.Y.C.2007-2017
  • Guest Lecturer, Columbia and Fordham Law Schools
  • Member, Counsel on Foreign Relations, 2013-present

ADR Training

  • American Arbitration Training, “Fundamentals and Best Practices,” San Francisco, 2019
  • Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, “Accelerated Route to Fellowship,” Houston, 2019
  • Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution, “International Mediation Skills training,” Miami, 2018
  • FINRA Arbitration Training, New York, 2018
  • Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, “Comprehensive Course on International Arbitration,” New York, 2017
  • Southern District, New York, Employment Mediation Training, 2014
  • Mediation Advocacy, Ken Feinberg, New York, 2014
  • Southern District, New York, Mediation training for new mediators, 2012
  • American Arbitration Association, “Fundamentals of Arbitration for New Arbitrators”, Atlanta, 2011
  • Harvard Law School, Negotiation Training, Mass., 2010

Admissions

  • New York State
  • U.S. District Courts, Southern and Eastern District
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
  • United States Supreme Court

As President and Chief Executive Officer of the CPR Institute, an organization that has hundreds of members, including law firms, corporations, mediators, arbitrators, academics and individuals, I interacted with hundreds of lawyers from firms that were both members and non-members of CPR. In that role, I spoke at many CPR events as well as events sponsored by other organizations around the world including, but not limited to, The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, the College of Commercial Arbitrators, the Association of Corporate Counsel, the  New York State Bar Association, the New York City Bar Association, Corporate Counsel Women of Color and the American Bar Association. I am also a member of many organizations and have numerous Linked-In connections, some of whom I do not know personally. Relationships that are merely tangential in nature should not be considered to be those that might impact independence or impartiality.

I will disclose should I know that I have a personal, family, social or professional relationship with any person identified to me as associated with a new potential proceeding. Any interested parties should not rely on this website as representing a complete or updated resource for disclosure information. And any party in an arbitration where I am proposed as an arbitrator should disclose any information considered relevant to impartiality or independence as soon as that information is available. Any such party should conduct an ongoing reasonable search of publicly available information as soon as reasonably practicable after learning of my potential appointment.

  • [Noah is] very arguably the leading ADR thinker of our generation. John Kiernan, Partner
    Debevoise & Plimpton