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AlternAtive Dispute resolution


Thirty-one years ago, harvard law Professor frank sander and Chief Justice of the u.s. supreme Court warren e. Burger gave speeches at the nowfamous Pound Conference in which both legal giants argued passionately for the expansion of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in legal education and legal practice. To put it bluntly, they got their way.

In 1976, only a handful of law schools saw fit to teach courses on negotiation. These and other so-called “skills” courses were demeaned by more tradition-minded professors. Clinics were rare and considered crass. Practical training was supposed to occur in the field. In addition, there existed much skepticism about whether negotiation could be taught. In 2007, the landscape is very different. Virtually every law school has at least one negotiation course, and most also have courses in mediation and arbitration. There are at least 20 schools with concentrations or centers related to ADR, and some of these have as many as seven full-time faculty members teaching in ADR and related subjects. As far as the practice side goes, ADR has taken over. Only 1.8 percent of filed matters proceed to verdict. The rest are disposed of some other way — primarily through settlement. And on the transactional side of the legal fence, all work is based in deal making and bargaining. The practice of law is the practice of ADR. Lawyers who were not trained in ADR during their days in law school (and every year there are fewer and fewer such lawyers) have a rich array of training options available to them. Some return to their law schools and take courses, while many spend

12 | Willamette lawyer

time in continuing education programs. Lawyers understand that skill in the courtroom does not equal skill in settlement, so they are retooling to meet the challenges faced in modern practice. Willamette University College of Law is no newcomer to the field. Founded in 1983, the Center for Dispute Resolution was the first of its kind in the western United States and is the only academic dispute resolution center in the Pacific Northwest. In fact, it is the oldest institution of its kind west of the Mississippi. Today, the center continues to take a leadership role in the development of ADR and is recognized as one of the nation’s finest training grounds in dispute resolution. The Center for Dispute Resolution serves a variety of purposes to a variety of constituencies. To students enrolled in the center’s Certificate Program in Dispute Resolution, it is a teaching enterprise — a place to learn the theory and practice of negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and other methods of resolving disputes. To the larger academic community, it is a vehicle for the production and dissemination of research on conflict theory and problem solving. To the community, the state and the nation, it is a forum for dialogue about real-world conflicts and a provider of dispute resolution services. These three purposes — teaching, outreach and research — define the mission and goals of the Center for Dispute Resolution. Our teaching includes three different negotiation courses, a mediation course, an arbitration course, a dispute resolution survey, an advanced seminar and a mediation externship. In addition, we offer courses in international law and dispute resolution, and our students participate regularly in regional and national events sponsored by the American Bar Association. Our students have reached the national competition three times in the last 10 years — solid evidence that our training works. ADR is not just about education; it is also about practice. Toward this end, the Center for Dispute Resolution does a great deal of work with the public and the practicing bar. Recently, we sponsored appellate mediation training for the Oregon Court of Appeals through a program the Center for Dispute Resolution staff helped to create and that leads the nation in settlement

Willamette Lawyer | Fall 2007 • Vol. VII, No. 2  

The Honorable Otto R. Skopil Jr.: Senior 9th Circuit Judge Otto R. Skopil Jr. has been an exemplar of outstanding judicial service throughou...

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