Saturday, August 10, 2013

Back to School: ASL's Unique Dispute Resolution Curricular Program

The Appalachian School of Law is the first, and so far, the only law school founded with a focus on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).  ASL’s dispute resolution curriculum is unique in several ways.  Students get advanced training in negotiation  mediation, arbitration, early neutral evaluation, group facilitation, consensus building, and dispute resolution system design. 

2L Dispute Resolution Survey Course

First, only nineteen law schools, including ASL, require all their students to take an ADR survey class.  The curriculum reflects the realities of lawyering in an era of the so-called “Vanishing Trial."   The course provides students with basic interest-based negotiation skills.  It also introduces them to the role of advocate in several ADR processes, especially mediation.  

Research shows that ASL students who take only the required survey course have more training in ADR than most practicing attorneys.  This training creates more employment opportunities for students and allows graduates to more skillfully represent clients.

Lawyer as Problem Solver Certificate Program

But many students take more than the one required ADR course. They pursue the Lawyer as Problem-Solver (LAPS) Certificate. The Appalachian School of Law is one of only forty law schools with an ADR-related certificate program or curricular concentration.  

ASL’s LAPS certificate program focuses on the role of the modern attorney in facilitating strategic problem-solving for clients both inside and outside of the courtroom.  The program seeks to provide students with the skills they need effectively to serve their clients, including skills in oral and written communication, interviewing and counseling, negotiation, mediation, arbitration, transactional drafting, estate planning, and pre-trial, trial, and appellate practice.  

In the last several years, approximately 20 percent of students in the graduating class earned the LAPS certificate.  Students who earn the certificate have over 110 hours of ADR-related training in the skills, theory, and ethics of ADR.

Advanced Upper Level ADR Courses

Appalachian School of Law offers a number of advanced upper level courses relating to ADR.  They include:
  • Workers’ Comp and Safety Laws and ADR
  • Certified Civil Mediation
  • Client Interviewing, Counseling, and Negotiation;
  • Insurance and ADR Practice
  • Environmental Dispute Resolution
Only eighteen of 200 ABA-accredited law schools offer a course in Environmental Dispute Resolution.

Other courses in the catalog that cover ADR topics include:
  • Arbitration and Dispute Resolution System Design
  • ADR In Criminal Cases
  • Advanced Negotiation
   Co-Curricular ADR Activities

      Students can develop their knowledge and skills in ADR through several co-curricular activities.  The Appalachian Journal of Law dedicates its spring issue to ADR topics.  Students can write an ADR-focused note for publication and edit articles submitted by nationally known ADR scholars.  

      The ASL ADR Society offers students an opportunity to participate in ADR-related competitions at the intra-school, regional, and national level, where they have competed successfully against top-ranked schools.  
      For more information about the ADR program, contact me, Professor Paula Marie Young.  Additional information appears here

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