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Dispute Resolution Becomes Mainstream


Vol. 41 No. 3
Cara Henley Johnson


Cara Henley Johnson, a 3L at the University of Houston Law Center, is the 2012-13 Law Student Division liaison to the Section of Dispute Resolution.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) offers exactly that—alternatives to litigation. The ABA Section of Dispute Resolution supports practitioners and students in all of these alternatives including arbitration, mediation, and negotiation. In mid-October, the Section celebrated ABA Mediation Week with a theme of “Mediation in the Mainstream.” Mediation Week celebrates the institutionalization of mediation in the courthouse, private practice, and law schools.

Each spring the Section of Dispute Resolution involves law students by holding a Representation in Mediation Competition for law students to gain experience negotiating in a mediation setting. In April 2012, Jo-Ann Handy and Andrew High of Arizona State University won this national competition.

“In my experience as a law student, the Representation in Mediation Competition was the closest experience to the real-life pressures of representing a client in an active situation that required interaction with an opposing attorney with very different goals. There were so many talented teams from across the country at the competition; it was wonderful to come out on top,” says High who graduated in May 2012 and is now working at Weisberg & Meyers, a consumer finance firm, in Phoenix, Arizona.

The Section of Dispute Resolution also offers networking and educational opportunities to our 19,000 members from all fields, including mediators, negotiators, judges, academics, government lawyers, and thousands of law students. As ADR becomes mainstream, many types of practitioners, including students, recognize the need to connect with others around ADR issues. We are actively seeking greater student involvement.

Law students can join the Section of Dispute Resolution for free. There are also 29 committees and task forces that student members may join, which cover diverse subjects including: construction, family, law school, tax, women, and young lawyers. ADR has entered mainstream legal practice, so no matter which area students intend to practice in, ADR skills will be useful and there may be a committee for your field of interest. Students can also join our LinkedIn group or see our Facebook page to learn more about and discuss current dispute resolution news.

Our next event is the 10th Annual Advanced Mediation and Advocacy Skills Training Institute in Boston on November 15–16. Law students are welcome to attend.

If interested in opportunities with the Section of Dispute Resolution, please contact me to discuss or visit the Section’s website.

Student Lawyer Student Lawyer magazine provides guidance on educational, career, and related issues for ABA Law Student Division members and other subscribers. It is published four times a year by the Law Student Division of the American Bar Association. Student Lawyer is available online to members of the ABA Law Student Division and to print subscribers.