Learning from Law Firms: Using Co-Mediation to Train New Mediators - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 59, No. 2
Lee A. Rosengard is a senior partner in the Philadelphia-based Stradley, Ronon, Stevens & Young, LLP. A former chair of the firm’s Litigation Department, he currently serves as co-chair of its ADR Practice Group. Mr. Rosengard is an adjunct faculty member at the Villanova University School of Law, where he teaches Interviewing and Counseling. This article was adapted from an article that appeared in Alternatives to the High Cost of Litigation. Copyright © 2003 CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution. Reprinted with permission of John Wiley Inc..
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
The law firm model for training new lawyers works well for training new mediators and should permit the parties in mediation to achieve significant benefits.
The teaching of alternative dispute resolution as a discipline is flourishing in law schools. The 2003 Directory of Law School Dispute Resolution Courses and Programs, published by the American Bar Association’s Section of Dispute Resolution, lists just under 900 courses at nearly 200 law schools. Over 40 of these had an ADR clinic of one kind or another.2 Some law schools have institutes that also provide training in dispute resolution theory and skills to lawyers and other professionals; some offer certificate programs, advanced degrees and CLE (continuing legal education) credit.3
Frank Sanders of Harvard law School noted that only 25 years ago, “the only curricular offerings related to any dispute resolution process other than litigation tended to deal solely with arbitration, and those were often limited to labor arbitration.”4 We have come a long way since then.
However, for the same reasons that taking law school courses do not make a law student into a lawyer, the study of ADR as a law school discipline, even to the extent that it includes a clinical component, does not make a law student a mediator.
Few, if any, clients would want their case to be handled by a lawyer who just graduated from law school (as few would want a newly minted doctor to perform surgery on them). Clients want good judgment from their lawyers, and that comes with time and experience. Similarly, few parties would trust their dispute to be mediated by a person with little or no mediation experience.
In traditional areas of law practice, law school graduates gain practical know-how that gives texture to a legal education by becoming associated with other lawyers in the practice of law. The law has a long-honored tradition of experienced lawyers training new members of the bar in the practice of the law (as opposed to training them to pass a bar exam to obtain a license to practice). More young lawyers choose private practice for their initial employment after law school,5 where they can develop experience and learn from the experience and perspective of senior lawyers. This is particularly true of the large law firm.