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Thursday, April 18, 2013

UC Hastings Wins Otis Award as Top ADR Educator

UC Hastings has once again been awarded the prestigious Louise Otis Award for Excellence in Mediation Education.

The Otis award, which UC Hastings previously won in 2011, is based on the ADR program’s rank, its curriculum, the strength of its faculty, and the performance of the school’s ADR team at competitions around the world. UC Hastings’ ADR program is ranked No. 9 in the nation by US News & World Report.

UC Hastings offered its first Negotiation course 30 years ago, and since then has grown to one of the most respected ADR programs in the country. The college’s Center for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution (CNDR), founded 10 years ago, trains law students, judges and lawyers around the world in the latest negotiation and mediation techniques as well as providing training in dispute system design for courts and others The school provides both theoretical and skills based courses along with offering clinical and externship opportunities. There are 15 sections of basic Negotiation offered each year alone.

“We help students connect with private ADR providers and court programs locally, we assist practitioners and scholars to stay current with cutting edge practice and research, and we provide training for international judges and neutrals designing ADR systems appropriate to their jurisdiction,” said Sheila Purcell, director of CNDR.

CNDR was instrumental in creating the college’s Civil Litigation and Dispute Resolution Concentration for J.D. students, and the Dispute Resolution and Legal Process LL.M. Specialization. Some 15 students graduate each year with the concentration.

Even students who don’t specialize in ADR are exposed to its tenets. Through the Center’s work, first-year students are introduced to a module on settlement negotiation techniques in their Tort and Contract classes.

The Center is also a leader among the college’s experiential learning programs. Students in the Civil Justice Mediation Clinic serve as mediators in San Francisco’s Small Claims Court and with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where they help resolve claims filed against the city, among other cases. Students also observe real-life mediation sessions through private commercial mediation providers such as Judicate West and JAMS as well as with local courts. The college also offers an ADR Externship Program, which, along with the judge-led Judicial Settlement class, gives students multiple opportunities for real-world observation and learning by doing.

"We have the best dispute resolution program for law students," said Professor Clark Freshman. "There's no better place to watch ADR applied in so many courts, businesses, and organizations."

The UC Hastings faculty includes some of the nation’s most sought-after thinkers on ADR system design and the psychology of dispute resolution, such as Professors Melissa Nelken, Carol Izumi, Freshman, and Purcell. Many courses are also taught by a core group of 25-30 adjuncts who are active ADR practitioners.

UC Hastings won the award in March 2013 in Toronto, where the UC Hastings ADR team was one of some 15 teams to participate in the International Competition for Mediation Advocacy, an annual event for law students from around the world. The team placed third in the invitation-only competition. The UC Hastings ADR Team of 34 students participates in about 15 competitions a year.

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