KIMBERLEE K. KOVACH is a full-time professor at South Texas College of Law as well as adjunct professor at the University of Texas School of Law. She is also a practicing mediator and arbitrator and is the current vice-chair of the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution.
Much in the same way that alternative dispute resolution has evolved, so too have its educational components developed. ADR courses are now an integral part of many law school curricula and are filtering down as well into undergraduate programs. What is needed now, however, is a more refined focus on the aspects of ADR that are being taught, says Kimberlee Kovach. The perspective should be less on neutral training and more on the lawyer-as-skilled-advocate in the ADR environment, she says. This will also require more widespread uniformity in training and education.
Twenty years ago, very little existed in the way of formal alternative dispute resolution (ADR) education. Although a few isolated training programs for mediators and arbitrators were being conducted, these were generally connected to a specific program and rather informal. Materials were loose and photocopied since textbooks or training manuals did not exist.1 This is not to say that individuals were inadequately educated, but, rather, the educational process in this field, and the subject matter itself, was in its infancy.