Professor Purcell discusses the comprehensive ADR program at UC Hastings and the growing popularity of ADR around the globe.
Sheila Purcell (second from left) with members of the Hong Kong ADR court.
Sheila Purcell ‘86, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Negotiation & Dispute Resolution (CNDR), has made the increased use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) her mission since she first studied the success of mediation in landlord/tenant law for her undergraduate thesis at UC Santa Cruz in 1981.
“You need litigation for certain things but you don’t need it for everything. There are more straightforward ways of resolving cases in most instances,” said Purcell, whose biography
reads like an ADR primer.
UC Hastings offers a dynamic program for law students who are eager to learn more about the growing field of ADR. “CNDR offers about 20 courses in basic and advanced negotiation, arbitration and international arbitration, mediation and dispute system design. We believe that every lawyer needs to be able to negotiate and all lawyers should be familiar with the different dispute resolution tools out there,” remarked Purcell.
CNDR offers one of the largest ADR programs in the country–approximately one-third of UC Hastings students take at least one ADR class annually. CNDR also cooperates with the Civil Justice Clinic to run an active Mediation Clinic where students mediate Small Claims cases in court and discrimination cases with the city’s Human Rights Commission.
The school boasts a popular Alternative Dispute Resolution Team
, which recently won 1st and 2nd place in national competitions. “This fall, 145 students competed for 35 spots on the team,” noted Purcell. “Students recognize that the experience of role-playing, and negotiating and mediating with strangers will serve them well in their careers.”
Professor Purcell's stateside ADR expertise has been sought out by others internationally who are looking for advise on both experiential teaching of ADR and on how to incorporate ADR into their Rule of Law and court systems. The Center runs a globally unique Summer Institute on Court ADR
, which attracts professionals from around the world who are interested in implementing court ADR programs in their countries.
In a few weeks, she will be hosted to serve as the keynote speaker at a conference about best ADR teaching practices at City University of Hong Kong Law School. She’ll also give a presentation about court ADR design at the University of Macau and she'll return to mainland China to visit a court where she provided mediation training a couple of years ago. “Unlike the U.S., where court ADR programs are suffering from budget cuts, Asia is investing in court ADR. The courts and law schools understand that as the world becomes more global we increasingly need forums for international business and other disputes to be fairly decided,” remarked Purcell.
Professor Purcell is also in the process of designing a Pan-Asia ADR summit for the ABA. Taking place in New Delhi, India in February 2015, the conference will welcome United Nations Commission on International Trade Law representatives, and chief justices, mediators, academics and practitioners from a host of Asian countries. “It’s surprising how many issues – like quality control and ethics – we realize we have in common with one another when we discuss court ADR infrastructure in other countries,” said Professor Purcell, whose passion for her work is evidently contagious.