Boston University School of Law

May 7, 2010

Janis Bolis
John Bolis (center) with former Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga (left) and his wife, Valda (right)

John Bolis ('64) awarded honorary doctorate from Latvian Academy of Sciences

Many people see retirement as a time to rest, pursue neglected interests or cultivate new ones. For John Bolis (’64), retirement has included pursuing legal interests in his native country, the Republic of Latvia--and these pursuits have not gone unnoticed.

This fall, the Latvian Academy of Sciences awarded Bolis with an honorary doctorate for his teaching of mediation. Latvian Academy, the official science academy of Latvia and an association of the country's foremost scientists, named Bolis as one of the first to "popularize Latvian mediation as an effective means of resolving disputes and court work," according to its Web site. "Now...mediation is applied in practice in several state and non-governmental organizations."

“After I retired, I was looking around in Latvia to see what I could do, and the courts there are bad,” Bolis said. “There was corruption. There was inexperience.”

In an effort to help improve the legal system, Bolis saw mediation as the answer. He received a graduate certificate in dispute resolution from UMass Boston's College of Public & Community Service in 2000. He then went to Latvia, where he began teaching courses on mediation and dispute resolution.

“It’s fair to say I was the first person to introduce mediation in Latvia,” he said.

According to Bolis, after he began teaching Latvian students mediation, the European Union also began a mediation program in Latvia. Bolis estimates that there are now roughly 200 certified mediators in Latvia.

Bolis has been pleased with the advancement of mediation over the past decade. “I would say if you look back 10 years, from nothing, it’s getting there,” he said.

In 2006, the Latvian President at the time, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, awarded him Latvia’s Cross of Recognition fourth order, one of the highest honors in the country. According to the Latvian government, the Cross of Recognition is awarded to those whose patriotic achievements have improved the nation.

In addition to teaching at universities throughout Latvia, Bolis has also taught courses at Cardozo Law School and the Northeastern University School of Law.

Reported by Christine Lindberg

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