LAW 3720 - Alternatives to Litigation
This course examines how various dispute-handling processes can and do operate as alternatives to litigation and judicial dispute resolution. It focuses on the wider dispute-handling system, of which courts are only one part. The course is both theoretical and practical in approach, and involves having students observe diverse dispute-handling processes in actual operation. It is a paper course that fulfills the writing requirement. The course traces the history of, and the recent rise of interest in, alternative dispute-handling processes; it also outlines a conceptual framework to understand the distinctions among different processes. Examination then focuses on specific processes, starting with adjudication itself, and including arbitration, mediation, negotiation, and hybrids and variants. In each case, readings and class analysis focus on various questions about the character, operation, practical uses and policy goals of the process in question. In connection with classroom study, students are assigned to make several (prearranged) field visits to various public and private agencies, and observe actual cases being handled through different processes (such as commercial or consumer arbitration and family or neighborhood mediation). Class discussion and analysis of these observations follow. This course is part of the first combined effort to establish an alternative dispute resolution curriculum by a major law school and the nation’s leading private dispute settlement organization, the American Arbitration Association.
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