Escaping the Appellate Litigation Straitjacket: Incorporating an Alternative Dispute Resolution Simulation into a First-Year Legal Writing Class
Mary B. Trevor
Hamline University - School of Law
Hamline University School of Law
January 1, 2012
Journal of the Legal Writing Institute, Vol. 17, 2012 Forthcoming
Many articles have been written about efforts to incorporate inter-disciplinary approaches into law school classes. While often intriguing, and even inspired, such efforts tend to lack staying power. Faculty composition changes, curriculum components change, and, perhaps, the work needed to maintain the project is too burdensome.
This article will address one particular inter-disciplinary effort at Hamline University School of Law that has had real staying power: an introduction of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) concepts into the first-year Legal Research and Writing (LRW) fall semester curriculum through the students’ participation in a simulated mediation. In addition to the apparent educational benefits of incorporating this simulation into our LRW class, the faculty and students at Hamline derive real personal satisfaction from this change of pace during the first year. In fact, as we do the final edits for this article, we are about to embark on the sixteenth year in which our students will participate in this exercise.
What follows is an explanation of the practical and pedagogical bases for this exercise, and the nuts-and-bolts of how to do it. Throughout, we explore why this exercise has staying power: despite various changes over the last couple of decades in legal education and at Hamline, the core practical and pedagogical rationales for the exercise survive, the effort required to continue its use is not daunting, and it fits naturally into the LRW curriculum. Finally, this detour from the appellate-level litigation approach that dominates the first-semester law school experience opens new vistas and is personally satisfying from both the instructor and student perspectives.
Part I of this article briefly explains the history and current scope of ADR processes, and reviews the historical underpinnings for incorporating ADR into non-ADR law school classes. Part II examines the current pedagogical theories supporting such incorporation through the use of simulations. Part III discusses why the exercise fits well within the LRW curriculum. Part IV addresses the nuts-and-bolts of the exercise, and Part V offers our observations and conclusions about the exercise, including discussion of student feedback obtained through an assessment instrument.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 50
Keywords: inter-disciplinary, Alternative Dispute Resolution, ADR, Legal Research and Writing, LRW, legal researchAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: June 10, 2012
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