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Teaching Students to Be Problem-Solvers and Dispute-Resolvers

by Beth Graham
February 2015

Disputing Blog by Karl Bayer, Victoria VanBuren, and Holly Hayes

Beth Graham

Andrea Kupfer Schneider, Professor of Law at Marquette University Law School, Jill Gross, James D. Hopkins Professor of Law and Director of Legal Skills at Pace Law School, and John Lande, Isidor Loeb Professor of Law at the University of Missouri School of Law have authored “Teaching Students to Be Problem-Solvers and Dispute-Resolvers,” Building on Best Practices: Transforming Legal Education in a Changing World (Deborah Maranville, Lisa Radtke Bliss, Carolyn Wilkes Kaas & Antoinette Sedillo Lopez eds., 2015); Marquette Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 15-04. In their book chapter, the authors discuss how to best prepare future attorneys to successfully utilize alternative dispute resolution and practical problem solving methods in order to resolve conflicts throughout their legal careers.

Here is the abstract:

No matter what area of law students might end up practicing, dispute resolution and practical problem solving (“ADR” and PPS) will play a central role. Litigators resolve far more cases through voluntary processes than through trial. Transactional lawyers negotiate the terms of a deal. Government lawyers often are called to resolve interagency disputes and claims against the government. Defense attorneys and prosecutors routinely negotiate plea arrangements. In-house counsel work both internally and externally to resolve conflicts on behalf of their company.

Reports on what lawyers should know, including the MacCrate Report and Educating Lawyers, regularly list problem-solving, negotiation, and dispute resolution as skills that lawyers should have. Best Practices for Legal Education called for law schools to educate students in problem-solving and in practical wisdom, in order to solve clients’ problems effectively and responsibly.

Law schools can, and many do, educate future lawyers in the knowledge, skills, and values inherent in the problem-solving approach in two ways. The first is to develop a specific and distinct Alternative Dispute Resolution curriculum. It is a best practice for every law school to make such courses available to every law student. The second is to incorporate the problem-solving orientation and skills throughout the curriculum. This is an emerging best practice. Both are addressed.

Biography


Beth Graham received a J.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 2004 and a M.A. in Information Science and Learning Technologies from the University of Missouri in 2006. She also holds a B.S. in Public Administration from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She is licensed to practice law in Texas and the District of Columbia.



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