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Journal of Legal Education

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Over the past decade Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)─a term used to refer to the whole range of nonjudicial dispute resolution processes from arbitration' and mediation"─to negotiation, minitrials and "private judging"─has become the focus of considerable attention in legal scholarship practice, and education. Many law schools have moved to introduce introductory courses on ADR into their curricula; some have made efforts to "integrate" ADR perspectives into standard courses throughout the curriculum to reach more students and avoid "marginalizing" the ADR subject. In both ADR courses and ADR segments in traditional courses, the methodology of teaching ADR has generally been similar. While a traditional lecture or seminar-discussion format is retained in part, it has been common to modify this format by including some kind of simulation exercise(s) as a way of giving students a more direct grasp of the workings of ADR processes. This use of simulation to teach ADR is now well established and widespread.

However, while simulation may be a very good way of concretizing understanding of ADR processes, it is not the only way. Moreover, there are other objectives of teaching ADR (discussed below) that neither simulation nontraditional classroom teaching fulfill particularly well. This article describes a different and powerful methodology that accomplishes a number of educational objectives important in teaching ADR, whether in introductory or more advanced courses. This methodology involves sending students to observe actual ADR sessions, by agreement with the agencies conducting them, and then analyzing the students' observations in focused discussion sessions that use analysis of observation in a conscious and deliberate way to improve student insight and understanding of ADR processes. I have used this approach for three years in an introductory ADR course with excellent results, as described below.



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