Alternative Dispute Resolutions

Alternative Dispute Resolutions - Professor Wendy Smith

  • Course Number: LAW-450
  • Course Type: Foundational & Experiential
  • Credits: 3
  • Enrollment Limit: 20
  • Description: Alternative Dispute Resolution processes are now mainstream throughout the American legal system. Any practitioner representing clients in business negotiations, domestic relations matters, environmental disputes, real estate transactions, employment discrimination claims, civil rights matters, personal injury litigation, or criminal matters — to name just a few examples — will find ADR skills enhance their advocacy efforts. The goal of this class is to provide an overview of the availability, scope, and limitations of the principal ADR processes and of the skills needed to use those processes effectively.

    This is a survey course that offers an introduction to the conceptual, legal, and practical framework of arbitration, mediation, and negotiation. The class is a mix of traditional case analysis, consideration of scholarly comment, and participation in several simulated negotiations/mediations. It qualifies as an experiential class.

    The simulations range across a variety of substantive areas, such as commercial transactions, personal injury litigation, CERCLA negotiations, domestic relations matters, securities fraud claims, landlord-tenant disputes, employment contract negotiations, and estate disputes. No prior course work or experience in any of those areas is needed, other than those courses completed during the first year law school curriculum. In every simulation, each student will undertake the role of an advocate. The simulated mediations are conducted with mediators drawn from the Portland and Salem ADR communities.

    The class is limited to a maximum of twenty students and is taught in a seminar-like style. In-class discussion focuses on both the theory and practice of ADR and allows for a high degree of student participation.

    Because in-class participation is central to the educational value of the course, and because the simulations are most effective with full attendance, the attendance policy is more structured than may be the case for other courses at the law school. However, the policy has ample flexibility to reasonably accommodate job interviews, illness, religious observances, unforeseen emergencies, parental care duties, and other personal circumstances. For student planning purposes, dates for the simulations are scheduled well in advance of the term and are made available to students by way of the syllabus sent out approximately a month before classes begin.

  • Prerequisite: none
  • Evaluation Method: The course grade is based on both class participation (including the simulated negotiations/mediations) and a final written exam.
  • Capstone: no
  • WIE: no