For 20 years, the Center for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution (CNDR) and itsco-host, the Martin Daniel Gould Center for Conflict Resolution at Stanford Law School, have gathered law, business school, and undergrad ADR and Negotiation faculty from throughout Northern California to explore new topics and innovations in dispute resolution in pedagogy.
This year’s NorCal Conference returned to in-person on Friday, February 24, 2023. The theme was Mediation: Bridging Theory and Practice.
The idea behind the theme was that ADR skills courses have been offered in law schools for the past two decades or more, yet the courses themselves have remained largely unchanged: We continue to use many of the same texts, the same role plays, and the same methods of delivery that we did twenty years ago. In keeping with this idea, the conference panels raised questions such as: Have our theoretical and pedagogical models kept up with the times? Do they adequately reflect the current demands and realities of the legal profession? How can we as educators help bridge the gap between theory and practice, both in the classroom and beyond its boundaries?
Program 1: Does the Standard Law School ADR Curriculum Effectively Prepare our Students for the Realities of Mediation Practice?
Moderator Hiro N. Aragaki, Professor of Law, UC Law SF & Director of CNDR led a conversation with panelists Angela Agrusa, DLA Piper (Los Angeles); Bruce Edwards, JAMS (San Francisco); Stephanie Sheridan, Benesch Law (San Francisco); and Joan Stearns Johnsen, University of Florida (Gainesville). As part of a lively discussion, the group explored what lawyers are looking for in mediators and what tools mediators are using most in their current cases. We learned that evaluative tools are widely used and desired by attorneys and their clients.
Program 2: Should we Adapt our Teaching to Prevailing Changes in Mediation Practice? If so, how?
Moderator Janet Martinez, Director, Gould Negotiation & Mediation Program, Stanford Law School, led a conversation with panelists Dwight Golann, Suffolk Law School (Boston); Jessica Notini, Stanford Law School, Juan Walker, Stanford Law School. This panel noted the gap or “valley” that exists between the way mediation is traditionally taught in law schools and the way it is practiced in commercial settings, and advocated for increasing incorporation of case examples from our practices as well as opportunities for students to observe real life mediations.
Program 3: Tricks to Engage your Classes: An Interactive Resource Share
After lunch, Moderator Jasmine Blackmeir, Adjunct Professor, UC Law SF, facilitated a sharing of some favorite techniques to increase participation and engagement in the classroom, such as improvisation, community building exercises, and small group breakouts.
We look forward to seeing you all next year!