The Mediation Clinic is a four credit, one semester program in which students undergo intensive training in mediation and conflict resolution techniques in order to serve as mediators in selected Connecticut agencies and courts.
Founded in 1994 by Professor James Stark, formerly Director of Civil Clinical Programs and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the law school, the three primary goals of the clinic are: 1) by placing students in the role of neutrals rather than partisans, to help foster an integrative, problem-solving orientation to the practice of law; 2) to improve students' ability to represent clients effectively by helping them learn, in the context of mediation, generic listening, questioning, persuasion, negotiation and conflict resolution skills that are fundamental to the practice of law; and 3) to help students evaluate the benefits and limitations of mediation and other dispute resolution processes so that they can responsibly counsel clients about their choices.
This program is the law school's only in-house clinic that does not focus directly on client representation or litigation skills. Along with courses offered in Negotiation, Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution, the Mediation Clinic is part of a curriculum designed to educate students about less adversarial approaches to disputing. There are no pre-requisites.
In the clinic, students participate in an intensive 30-hour, five week training program before they begin to mediate cases. Casework placements and subject matters have varied from year to year, and have not been finalized for Spring 2009, but most recently have included:
- Mediation of small claims cases in Hartford Housing Court.
- Mediation of employment discrimination cases filed at the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities;
- Mediation of child custody disputes at Connecticut Family Courts around the state;
- Mediation of eviction cases in Hartford, New Britain and New Haven courts.
This year, we will also mediate lawyer-client grievance disputes, as part of a pilot program working with the office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel of the State of Connecticut.
Once casework begins, the classroom seminar focuses on further refinement of mediation skills; the ethics of mediating, the role of representative counsel in mediation; and discussion of strategic, communication and role issues arising in students’ actual cases.
Serving as a neutral provides a unique perspective on how litigants experience conflict and the courts-- a perspective that is often hard to appreciate while representing them. Serving as a mediator also provides a fascinating glimpse at lawyers' bargaining behaviors and both effective and ineffective styles of negotiation.
If you are potentially interested in this program, I'd be glad to talk to you further. Please contact me by email to arrange a meeting, or feel free to call me at (860) 570-5278.