What kind of legal professionals labor long and hard over their intellectual property . . . and then give it away? Law professors who teach alternative dispute resolution, that’s who.
In continuing acts of generosity not characteristic of the academy at large, educators focusing on providing students with knowledge and skills in conflict resolution mechanisms apart from litigation gather yearly to share teaching ideas and innovations with their friends and colleagues.
This community forum, under the banner of the American Bar Association’s Section of Dispute Resolution, often begins slowly, with participants feeling shy about presenting their newest simulation or in-class exercise as a practice worth emulating. But with the organizers’ encouragement, confidence grows, participants begin to shout out their contributions with growing enthusiasm, and the group takes on the call-and-response cadence of a jubilant church meeting.
ADR professors look forward to being with their colleagues, whether in the same room or virtually. But, for those who can’t attend–the organizers say they hope to resume in-person gatherings soon–the ideas presented are dutifully captured in a document titled the Legal Educators Resource Share, which is made widely available.
The resource is a valuable tool for practicing attorneys and ADR professionals, too. It is now more than 25 pages long, with hundreds of more pages of appendices–the actual, ready-to-use, material that teachers can hand out in class, such as simulation roles, out-of-class assignments, in-class worksheets, etc.
The resource is the brainchild of Sharon Press and Barbara “Bobbi” McAdoo of Mitchell Hamline School of Law, in Saint Paul, Minn. The decade-old effort, with support from the ABA Dispute Resolution Section, began when they convened a group at the ABA DR Section’s Annual Conference and encouraged attending professors to submit and describe teaching resources that could be shared with the teaching community.
They compiled those resources in a document and made them widely available on academic sites as well as the blogosphere. When Prof. McAdoo retired, Prof. Noam Ebner of Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., took her place as co-organizer.
The resource document is divided into several categories, all of which can be helpful to novices and veteran professors alike: list servs; conferences; teaching/training materials, videos, and more. A brief sampling of the ideas reveals the contributors’ creativity and focus on securing student engagement.
Here are examples of the materials:
The list is extensive.
What is particularly noteworthy is the alignment between what these educators profess in the classroom and what they actually do. As proponents of dispute prevention and management, they teach their students to be creative problem solvers, to search for mutually beneficial outcomes and to “grow the pie”–not just look for ways to self-servingly apportion it.
And this is how they approach their life’s work. Far from hoarding their intellectual capital, they spread it around, assuming that if the next generation of lawyers has the benefit of the best teaching and writing out there, then we all win.
The current version of the Legal Educators Resource Share linked above, and recent past versions, are located at ADRhub.com, a website maintained by Creighton’s Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program. There also are plans by the organizers to have open access on the Mitchell Hamline School of Law Dispute Resolution Institute web page, which provides its DRI Press books and other teaching materials.
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