Dispute Resolution Track
The Dispute Resolution Track at Maryland Carey Law exposes law students to the theory, skills, and practical experience needed to navigate dispute resolution processes in a variety of legal contexts. Although a basic understanding of dispute resolution options is a core competency for all lawyers, the Track is especially appropriate for students who want to pursue careers as complex civil litigators, transactional attorneys, in-house counsel, public policy leaders, or third-party neutrals (e.g., mediators, collaborative attorneys, ombudsmen). ADR is also important for attorneys in the fields of employment, family, business, construction, sports/entertainment, public policy, and international law.
Students who pursue the Dispute Resolution track should demonstrate the following learning outcomes:
- Understand key concepts in dispute resolution;
- Appreciate how our society and legal system approach conflict and reflect on the impact that those approaches may have in achieving justice for society and individuals, including those who lack access to effective legal representation;
- Demonstrate an understanding and practice facility of basic dispute resolution processes, including negotiation, adversarial processes (such as arbitration and litigation), and problem-solving approaches (such as mediation, collaborative law, or restorative justice);
- Understand the importance of considering available options for dispute prevention and resolution;
- Be able to identify, frame, and address legal problems and conflicts from differing perspectives;
- Apply professional judgement through self-reflection and conduct consistent with the legal profession’s values and standards.
The Dispute Resolution Track requires a minimum of 17 credits including core courses, a capstone seminar, an experiential requirement (clinic, externship, or extensive work experience), and a substantial writing requirement.
- Core Courses (12 credits)
Students must complete core courses from each of the categories in the table below. All students must complete one of three different negotiation courses, two specialized ADR courses, and one elective that applies dispute resolution to a legal subject matter. This menu provides students with flexibility to select courses most relevant to their future career plans.
Students interested in pursuing the Dispute Resolution Track should meet with the Faculty Director or Associate Director as early as possible (preferably during their first year or Fall of second year) to develop a plan customized to their interests and course availability, as not all courses are offered annually. Ideally, students on the Dispute Resolution Track should take one ADR-related course from the menu below in each semester of their second and third year.
- Conflict Resolution and the Law Seminar (2 credits)
The foundational course for the Dispute Resolution Track is the 2-credit Conflict Resolution and the Law Seminar. This seminar is a “capstone” course, best taken in Spring of the third year after students complete most of the other core requirements for the track. The Conflict Resolution and the Law Seminar provides a comprehensive overview of the dispute resolution strategies used by lawyers and legal systems to prevent, manage, and resolve conflicts in a variety of contexts (civil and criminal law, commercial, public policy, public sector, international). The seminar will be highly interactive, combining readings, discussions, guest speakers, and simulations. Grades will be based upon class participation, and a 15-page paper that analyzes the application of conflict resolution theory or an ADR process to a complex legal or policy problem.
- Experiential Requirement (4-8 credits)
In addition to the course requirements, students on the Dispute Resolution Track must complete an experiential requirement (minimum 4 credits), which may be satisfied by one of four clinics or an ADR or other approved externship. Students may complete the experiential component during their second or third years. In the discretion of the Faculty Director, the experiential requirement can also be satisfied by extensive work experience in conflict resolution.
Currently, students have the option of four different clinics that qualify for the Dispute Resolution Track (another agricultural mediation course is under development):
- Mediation Clinic (4 credits Fall/4 credits Spring)
In this year-long clinic, students learn and practice mediation skills in the role of the mediator in court-based cases and in Baltimore City schools. Students who complete the Mediation Clinic receive training and experience that qualifies them to apply to be a court-approved mediator for the District Court of Maryland ADR Program.
- Civil Rights of Persons with Disabilities Clinic (4 credits Fall/4 credits Spring; sometimes offered as one semester clinic)
In this clinic, students learn to represent clients in mediations concerning disability discrimination matters. Students also learn to negotiate potential settlements of disability discrimination claims.
- Environmental Law Clinic (4 credits Fall/4 credits Spring)
Students in the Environmental Law Clinic study and practice a range of dispute resolution strategies to address environmental issues, including negotiation with competing stakeholders and regulatory bodies, policy advocacy, and/or complex civil litigation.
- Mediation Clinic (4 credits Fall/4 credits Spring)
The experiential requirement may also be satisfied through an ADR externship or other approved externship in which the student gains extensive conflict resolution experience.
A rich array of ADR experiential opportunities exist at Maryland Carey Law. The Maryland Judiciary is an international leader in court-based dispute resolution processes. Our proximity to Washington, D.C. offers students externship opportunities with federal agency ADR programs and international organizations. In the past, students have completed ADR Externships with:
- Judicial programs (e.g., District Court of Maryland ADR Program; Maryland Court of Special Appeals ADR Office; Maryland Judiciary Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office; District of Columbia Multi-Door Program);
- Federal agencies (e.g., National Institutes of Health; United States Department of State);
- Civil rights agencies (e.g., Maryland Commission on Civil Rights; Equal Employment Opportunity Commission);
- International organizations (Mediators Beyond Borders; American Society for International Law) and
- State agencies (e.g., Maryland Governor’s Office of Business Ombudsman Maryland; Office of the Attorney General–Consumer Protection Division).
Other specialty externships (public interest, international, environmental, health, business, Asper/judicial) may qualify for the Dispute Resolution Track experiential requirement upon prior approval by the program’s Faculty Director.