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Out of the Courtroom, Across the Globe
Dispute resolution prepares students for the new reality of law. >Read more


One morning in London
Students narrowly miss tragedy in July bombs
>Read more

Copyright James YangOut of the Courtroom, Across the Globe
Dispute resolution prepares students for the new reality of law.

The dramatic pause. The carefully crafted closing statement. The zinging question that brings a defendant to his knees.

These are skills that many would expect students to learn in law school. That, and what torts are (hint: they are not fancy cakes).

While Hamline law students still study the delicate art of trial, they also learn a host of other important skills: negotiation, mediation, and arbitration, particularly if they participate in the school’s top-ranked alternative dispute resolution (ADR) program.

For the last five years, Hamline School of Law’s ADR program has ranked in the top five nationwide, placing it in an elite league with the University of Missouri-Columbia, Pepperdine, Harvard, and Ohio State, according U.S.News and World Report.

How did Hamline get placed alongside such well-known universities? If you’re asking yourself that question, you need to take another look at Hamline University School of Law. Dean Jon Garon likens the school to Medtronic and 3M, in that they all share Minnesota values (a certain “hotdish” quality, as he put it) but are all also leading the way domestically, and internationally, in their fields.

Dispute resolution: no longer the alternative

Law and Order, Matlock, and Judge Judy don’t tell the whole story: that fewer than 5 percent of all lawsuits that are filed go to trial.

Instead, they get “settled,” a broad term referring to a host of possibilities, including ADR.

The name—“alternative dispute resolution”—is therefore misleading. “Litigation is the biggest alternative around,” Professor Bobbi McAdoo said.

In Minnesota, virtually all disputes of any magnitude are required by law to consider using ADR. Even if both sides consider it but decide not to, the judge can require them to use it.

“ADR is a broad umbrella of options, including many designed Clockoutside an adversarial paradigm,” said Professor Jim Coben, director of the law school’s Dispute Resolution Institute. “Two common approaches, negotiation and mediation, remove the ‘win-lose’ aspect, instead focusing on ways to solve the problem by working together.”

Negotiation consists of a direct discussion with the opposing side, while mediation adds a trained third party to facilitate party settlement discussions. Arbitration, a third popular ADR process, resembles litigation in that a neutral party hears both sides and decides what the resolution should be. Yet arbitration provides unique opportunities for party agreement quite distinct from court.

“In most cases, parties get to choose who they want their arbitrator to be and what rules will govern their dispute,” Coben said. “Even though the arbitrator makes a decision, it will be on terms defined by the parties.”

News stories about superfluous lawsuits and frustrating technicalities paint a one-sided picture of the legal system. In reality, its policies and structure do more to bring people together than keep them apart.

Hamline teaches skills, not just theory

Through its Dispute Resolution Institute, Hamline offers a host of ADR options for its students: from classes to clinics to certificates, with some taking place as study abroad opportunities around the world.

arrowThe programs prepare students to know the different processes and how to advise their clients on which are most appropriate. They also learn how to prepare for the option chosen and how their role in the proceedings might be different (as an advocate instead of a lawyer, for example) but how they can still support their client.

While ADR is becoming an increasingly popular focus for law schools, Hamline’s programs do more than just teach students about the concept—they teach students how to use it.

“Teaching students to apply theory to skills—that’s where we really differentiate ourselves from other law schools,” Garon said.

Students agree. “My perspective regarding legal education has completely changed,” said Manoj Madhaven, an attorney from Trichur, India, who is a student in the law school’s Tri-Continental LLM (master of laws, for international lawyers) program.

“I had always believed you could not do anything practical in a law class. In fact, with the direct faculty-student interaction we enjoyed with Jim [Coben] and Bobbi [McAdoo], I learned that the law classroom can be a place to study the skills of lawyering as well as theory.”

Growing, growing, globally

The real growth in ADR is worldwide, where companies need people with expertise in negotiation and mediation to compete internationally. Globalization has created an international demand for ADR, one that Hamline is at the forefront of helping fulfill.

To prepare students for the realities of international conflict, Hamline offers a variety of courses for its students in countries worldwide (the growing list now includes England, Israel, Italy, Norway, Puerto Rico, and France/Hungary). Students can study conflict resolution in religious traditions in Jerusalem, learn how dispute resolution aids global businesses in Rome, and gain skills in international arbitration in London.

Hamline also offers a host of opportunities for students in other countries, giving students enrolled in other institutions around the world direct access to Hamline courses and Hamline professors.

GlobeThe newest program distinguishes itself by taking place in three countries. The Tri-Continental LLM program is a joint venture between the Indian Institute of Arbitration & Mediation in Cochin, India; Queen Mary, University of London; and Hamline. The students, all Indian, study first in India (completing a diploma course with Professors Coben and McAdoo) then in London (participating in Hamline’s month-long Certificate Program in Global Arbitration Law and Practice), and finally at Hamline this fall, spending a semester participating in internships and completing their LLM degree.

India, London, the U.S. … it’s a program that many students would dream of taking. Yet Hamline offers one of the few opportunities for such a comprehensive educational experience.

“We really set ourselves apart from other law schools through our innovation. We’re willing to try new things and take risks, things you’d more typically find at a New York or Washington D.C.-based law school.” Garon said.

The program’s success is already clear.

“This program has totally changed my attitude towards the concept of delivering justice,” Indian student V.R. Gopu said after completing the first part of the program.

Even regular Hamline students who don’t study abroad benefit. “We can’t take every Hamline student abroad, but they can take classes with students from other cultures,” McAdoo said.

“International students help the American students get beyond the myopic vision that they sometimes have, the idea that the way Americans do things is the only way. They bring up in classes why something wouldn’t work in their culture … it’s an incredibly important insight for American students to get.”

For more information on the Hamline University School of Law’s Dispute Resolution Institute, please visit http://www.hamline.edu/law/school_of_law.html.

Breanne Hanson Hegg MANM ’04 is executive director of creative services at Hamline.

One morning in London
Students narrowly miss tragedy in July bombs

The July 7 London bombs hit close to home for a Hamline group of eighteen law students participating in a month-long international commercial arbitration program at Queen Mary, University of London. On the morning of the attacks, students boarded a train at the Liverpool Street station, only to hear a blast and have the lights go out moments after it left the station. They were able to exit safely at the station one stop away from Liverpool.

Five students from India participating in the program also narrowly escaped injury, finding themselves one train behind the one that was bombed. They too were able to exit safely, with the help of emergency personnel.

While they bore no physical scars, the panic felt by both the students trapped on the trains and their classmates awaiting news of their whereabouts took a heavy emotional toll. While it was difficult to cope with such an experience so far from home, the class chose to complete the program and learn what they could from the experience.

Two students from the program shared their reflections with the law school.

“I didn't realize how little control we had until the terrorist attacks. I have never in my life encountered anything like it. September 11 was a horrific event, and it moved the nation, but it almost seemed removed from our tiny communities in Minnesota. But to miss a terrorist attack by five minutes creates a connection.

I spent the entire day crying, and leaning on friends. Some friends told me to get over it and others listened. But all of the advice or comments didn't really connect with me. All I wanted was to go home. I called my mom and dad and cried to them about how I couldn't be there anymore. I researched how much it would cost to switch my ticket and leave that night. I did everything in my power to try to escape from London that night.

Eventually all my fears and anxieties lessened, and my brain took over. I couldn't let some irrational, horrendous people take the control over my life away from me. I looked at myself from a different perspective and realized that how I was reacting was not who I was. I am not the person who runs away from a fight or a challenge. I stand strong and do whatever I can. So eventually my power and my control came back to me and I stayed in London to prove how little control or power terrorists can have over me.

The London program ended up being a program that will forever have an impact on my life. I know now that I can handle more than I ever knew. And I know that I am strong enough to overcome my own fears. Arbitration is a great class, and the professors were awesome at the program, but the lesson I learned from the London program was not from the classroom. The lesson I learned was from myself and others that we will not allow our power and control of our lives be taken away by people who commit horrendous acts that prove nothing but how wrong they really are.”
Katie Kneissel, second-year law student

 “When I reflect on my experience in London, the morning of July seventh will always be an important and overshadowing aspect of the five-week program. Had I been five minutes late to the tube station that morning, I would have been on one of the bombed trains. But the lesson learned and experience for me is not that of fear, anger, or even incompleteness, rather the experience provoked me to trust and have faith in my fellow students and teachers of the law. Together we worked through the fear and confusion, and together we decided to move forward to accomplish what we went to London to achieve.

After a year at Hamline law I have learned that an important piece of the study and practice of law is to recognize and understand the facts of a particular situation or case as they are; i.e., the facts cannot be changed. I have learned that a good lawyer takes the facts as they are and uses them in the most advantageous way without ignoring the unfavorable or injurious elements.

The London bombings were very real to all of us in the program; we did not ignore the event, nor did we allow the barbaric acts to interfere with our study and practice of arbitration. We took the facts as they were, worked through them, and learned from them. In London I learned the theory of arbitration through diligent reading and classroom discussion; I practiced the advocacy of the arbitral process by way of a capstone hands-on course; and I experienced profound confidence in my fellow students and faculty because of the abundant perseverance and resolve we shared.”
Aaron Zurek, second-year law student

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