Teaching Students to Be Problem-Solvers and Dispute-Resolvers
Building on Best Practices: Transforming Legal Education in a Changing World (Deborah Maranville, Lisa Radtke Bliss, Carolyn Wilkes Kaas & Antoinette Sedillo Lopez eds., 2015)
13 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2015
Date Written: February 9, 2015
No matter what area of law students might end up practicing, dispute resolution and practical problem solving (“ADR” and PPS) will play a central role. Litigators resolve far more cases through voluntary processes than through trial. Transactional lawyers negotiate the terms of a deal. Government lawyers often are called to resolve interagency disputes and claims against the government. Defense attorneys and prosecutors routinely negotiate plea arrangements. In-house counsel work both internally and externally to resolve conflicts on behalf of their company.
Reports on what lawyers should know, including the MacCrate Report and Educating Lawyers, regularly list problem-solving, negotiation, and dispute resolution as skills that lawyers should have. Best Practices for Legal Education called for law schools to educate students in problem-solving and in practical wisdom, in order to solve clients’ problems effectively and responsibly.
Law schools can, and many do, educate future lawyers in the knowledge, skills, and values inherent in the problem-solving approach in two ways. The first is to develop a specific and distinct Alternative Dispute Resolution curriculum. It is a best practice for every law school to make such courses available to every law student. The second is to incorporate the problem-solving orientation and skills throughout the curriculum. This is an emerging best practice. Both are addressed.
Keywords: ADR, dispute resolution, conflict resolution, legal education, law schools, pedagogy, teaching, law students, curriculum, curricular reform, innovation
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