LAW 3720 - Alternatives to Litigation
In recent decades, alternative methods have been developed to help people resolve legal problems without resorting to litigation. These techniques, known as alternative dispute resolution (ADR), often involve an independent third person or neutral who tries to help resolve or narrow the areas of conflict. The use of ADR, especially early in a case, may result in more efficient, cost-effective resolution of disputes with greater satisfaction to the parties.
While traditional legal education centers on litigation, this course focuses on the wider dispute resolution system, of which courts are a part. It examines how processes such as negotiation, mediation, arbitration, expert evaluation, collaborative law, along with their combinations and variations that take place outside of the courtroom, function as alternatives and supplements to litigation and judicial dispute resolution. The course traces the history of, and the recent rise of interest in, ADR. It also presents a conceptual framework for understanding the distinctions among ADR processes, and analyzing how each process can be helpful in achieving particular client goals.
The course will examine ADR processes as they are used in areas ranging from community and family disputes, to business transactions and civil rights actions. A major focus of the course is the lawyer’s key role as a “process counselor” – that is, an expert adviser who facilitates his/her client’s informed choice among dispute resolution options. This course combines theory and practice, including concrete examples in which students practice counseling clients on the choice of an ADR process. On the final exam, students are asked to use their ADR knowledge to analyze a problem of “process choice” for a hypothetical client, and advise the client on their options.
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