How many of us in the mediation field have said that educating people about alternative approaches to dispute resolution is essential to changing the way that conflicts are addressed? For those of us who work in court ADR, the continuing development of law school ADR coursework in particular is a cause for optimism that the practice of law increasingly will encompass skilled use of ADR.
In a recent pro bono case I mediated, I had an experience that affirmed this belief. The defendants were represented by a skilled, young volunteer lawyer who was an able advocate for his client in mediation. He asked good questions of the other side, was dogged but gracious in pursuing his clients’ interests, and took a constructive, problem-solving approach. After the mediation, he asked opposing counsel and me about how this case relates to others of this type, as this had been his first one in this area. He said that he had taken a mediation course in law school and had mediated actual court cases through the clinic, so he felt prepared for the process, but wanted to learn more about this particular application.
Isn’t this what we have been hoping would happen? Law school mediation training is preparing strong, capable advocates in mediation.
Susan Yates has been Executive Director of Resolution Systems Institute (RSI) since 1997. In this role, she is responsible for implementing the organizational mission of improving the effectiveness of court-related alternative dispute resolution methods and for overall management of a national on-line Court ADR Resource Center, technical assistance to courts that are working to establish or improve their ADR programs, and monitoring and evaluation of court ADR programs.
As Executive Director, Ms. Yates assists state and federal courts throughout Illinois with their development of sound ADR programs. She uses her expertise and years of experience to help them navigate the complexities of program design, such as how to structure referral systems, how to deal with issues including confidentiality and neutrality, and how to ensure quality.