Prof. Beth Schwartz
Professor of Law, Mediation
||MORE AND MORE in the practice of law, there are instances when a "fair" resolution of competing interests is at least as important as finding the "right legal answer." Increasingly, lawyers are called upon to advocate and provide service for their clients outside the adversarial arena and, as a result, the demand for negotiation and mediation skills is on the rise. |
Working collaboratively with a co-mediator partner in actual mediations, students learn how to think about dispute resolution in a fashion other than litigation or adversarial tactics. Their communication and reframing skills become highly developed in this clinic. They explore the legal, policy, and professional responsibility issues of mediation practice by lawyers with an emphasis on the non-adversarial role of the lawyer-mediator, and also the role of the attorney advocate in mediation.
Students go to court one night a week for ten weeks to mediate cases. Through the clinic, students serve as mediators (third-party neutrals) in three New York City Small Claims Courts -- Manhattan, Queens and Bronx -- in a variety of disputes, including those involving:
- defective goods and services
The emphasis is on problem-solving, so it is much broader in the kinds of resolutions--sometimes it's just an apology from one party to the other. You would not see this kind of judgement in court. In the end, it's about doing justice in a way that people actually feel like they were heard in their complaints. It's a cathartic process.