Finding a Way to "Yes": A Conversation with Noah Hanft '76, President and CEO, International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution
|Noah Hanft '76
Can't we all just get along? If Noah Hanft has anything to do with it, the answer is: YES. Hanft has devoted much of his career to finding the most effective and efficient resolutions for business disputes and was just appointed President and CEO of the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR), an international nonprofit coalition of corporate counsel, top law firms, judiciary and academics, dedicated to providing resources and information in commercial conflict prevention and dispute management. Simply put, he's paid to help people make up nicely.
Hanft started his career as a trial lawyer with The Legal Aid Society, chasing a passion for the law nurtured as a young boy who worshiped President Abraham Lincoln. "I read everything I could about Abe Lincoln and his career, not only as President but as a lawyer before that." Hanft attended the American University School of Government, and went straight to BLS where he found professors who fueled his interest in advocacy. "I loved Dick Farrell's New York Practice and Dean Prince's Evidence. I found every minute of Dean Prince's class both captivating and fascinating," he said. "That’s kind of what led me towards litigation, and trial work."
Hanft spent five years at Legal Aid working on the front lines of criminal defense, but he was also nursing an interest in intellectual property; he completed an LL.M. in Trade Regulation from NYU at night. He recalled his demanding schedule: "We'd just had our first daughter, I'd be on trial during the day, at school at night, and then typing motions for a mistrial at 3am." After five years at Legal Aid, Hanft joined the firm of Ladas and Parry, doing trademark and copyright litigation and counseling. A couple of years later, he was ready for a new challenge. "It was a valuable experience, but I thought it would be really cool to actually be in a situation where I could shape business decisions; not to just clean up the pieces, but actually prevent them from falling apart."
In 1984, he joined MasterCard as Counsel and remained there, other than a three-year stint to launch AT&T's credit card business in 1990, for 27 years. Over those two decades, he held positions of increasing responsibility within MasterCard, including that of Senior Vice President and U.S. Counsel and Assistant General Counsel, ultimately becoming General Counsel and Chief Franchise Officer in 2001, where he was responsible for overseeing legal and regulatory affairs, public policy and compliance. Hanft also had responsibility for Franchise Development and Integrity, Global Diversity, Corporate Security and Information Security. In addition, he was a member of the company's Executive and Operating Committee.
Managing Editor Andrea Strong "94 chatted with Hanft recently about the benefits of alternative dispute resolution, the complexities of modern business transactions, and how to get a three-year old to say yes, instead of no.
Read the full interview