This is Part 1 of a multi-part series.
During law school, I took a class titled “Alternative Dispute Resolution.” Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) essentially covers everything except trial. Lawyers – or law school professors anyway – break the legal process into two sections: (1) trial and (2) everything else. The trial itself begins with the lawyer’s trial preparation – preparing their arguments and so-forth – and ends when the verdict is given, whether that is by a judge or jury. The class I was in discussed the “everything else” aspect, which basically covered negotiations, mediations, and arbitrations. The law school curriculum is almost entirely focused on trial and excludes the “everything else.”
(There is more to do during the “everything else” phase, such as discovery, but those topics are covered in Civil Procedure or Pre-Trial skills classes.)
In the class, students were to read, review, discuss, and act as a party’s counsel in different cases, events in the news, etc. The professor was very interesting and would use examples from classical history to modern-day politics to show how ADR – like negotiations – impacted what each side would do. Sometimes the parties in the examples would come to an amicable solution and sometimes they didn’t.
While the class was one of my favorite classes for a number of reasons, it was mostly because ADR combines many of the different subjects I’m interested in, such as history, warfare, strategy, and psychology to name a few. For our grade in the course, we were to write a paper discussing ADR and our opinions about it. Incorporating my knowledge in the various fields I’ve studied, I wrote a paper arguing that ADR should actually be the “lawyer’s” primary strategy and trial should be thought of as the alternative. I received a book award in the course (the highest grade in my class). In this multi-part series, I will post the entire paper, but with my own updates and revisions.
Be sure to check back often, add this site to your RSS feed, and let me know your thoughts down in the comments on ADR regardless of whether you’re a lawyer!