Howard University

Alternative Dispute Resolution Clinic

The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Clinic is a six (6) credit clinical course offering. The course is open to a maximum of ten (10) students each semester. Students wishing to enroll in the ADR Clinic must take the ADR survey course as a prerequisite to enrolling in the ADR Clinic.

The ADR Clinic has a classroom component as well as an actual case-handling component. The classroom component includes two seventy-five (75) minute seminars per week, during which students study the choices that lawyers make (often without reflection) about the processes available for the resolution of their client’s disputes. Through the use of simulated exercises, the classroom component will give students an opportunity to learn how to represent clients in dispute resolution processes other than litigation. Finally, students will learn the skills necessary to function as an effective third-party in various disputes. The seminar also will allow students to explore the legal issues which are extant in the still-emerging field of alternative dispute resolution, such as: (1) the problem of power imbalance between disputants in mediation; (2) the meaning of confidentiality in mediation; (3) the need for certification and/or licensing of mediators; (4) the ethical issues in mediation; and (5) the role of culture and diversity in the field of alternative dispute resolution.

The actual cases to be handled by the students will come from several sources. The Clinic has established a relationship with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) whereby students provide intake services and co-mediate with experienced professionals on employment disputes.

Another source will be disputes among students at Howard University arising from the University Judiciary system and the Office of Residence Life. This mediation program will be an important addition to the services offered to undergraduate students. A final source of cases would be small claims matters in the courts of the District of Columbia. Students will co-mediate cases with the officials in the Multi-Door Dispute Resolution Service.

To prepare the students to begin to mediate cases as early in the semester as possible, all students who enroll in the ADR clinic must participate in an orientation session prior to the start of the semester or very near to the beginning of each semester. Any student failing to complete the forty-hour training program will be dropped from the ADR Clinic. The training session will include at least a full day on a Friday, a Saturday and a Sunday. No exceptions will be made as to participation in the orientation session.

Upon completing the forty-hour training, those who are deemed by the instructor to be prepared would then co-mediate with the instructor and/or with seasoned mediators who have volunteered to assist with the ADR Clinic. Those students deemed not yet prepared to participate as co-mediators would continue to develop their skills through the classroom component of the Clinic. They would also work with various organizations to identify appropriate cases for mediation and participate in other community education and outreach activities to educate the public of the uses and benefits of ADR.