Pepperdine Program Discussing Scholarship About Actual Practice

At the Past-and-Future Conference, I will be on a panel with Doug Frenkel, Michaela Keet, and Donna Stienstra entitled, “Research and Scholarship with a Real-World Focus Studying What Practitioners Actually Do.”  We will not only discuss research about private neutrals, but also lawyers, judges, and disputants.

Most of the session will be a conversation in Q&A format focusing on the questions listed below.  Panelists will discuss the questions and then we will open the conversation to the audience before proceeding to the next set of questions.

Our program will follow another one about scholarship and some of the discussion in our program may build on the prior program.  So we encourage you to attend both programs.

We won’t have time to do more than scratch the surface of the issues.  There is a tradeoff between discussing more questions and discussing them in more depth.  Given all the questions we might discuss, it will be impossible to do justice to any of the questions or address all the important ones.  We will do our best with the limited time available.

We plan to collect your thoughts at the program, share them with the new ABA Dispute Resolution Research Advisory Committee, and post a summary of them on the blog.  We hope that this will stimulate continuing conversations about these issues during and after the conference.

Here are the questions we plan to discuss:

  • What should be the most important and realistic goals of future empirical research on dispute resolution? For example, should it seek to:
    • develop clearer concepts and language
    • identify key contextual factors affecting processes
    • develop new theories and insights
    • develop valid generalizations
    • help establish consensus on best / worst practices
    • help design conflict management systems
  • How should we deal with the fact that DR processes are so complicated and affected by many contextual factors that it is hard to generalize?
  • The world is changing rapidly and DR practice is changing as part of that. What questions would be important for our field to study empirically?  What are new forms of DR we should study?  What are challenges or barriers for improving DR processes and systems?
  • What factors do you hypothesize to affect DR processes and outcomes – and thus would be important to study?
  • What are good methodological approaches for designing empirical research to get realistic understandings of what happens in the real world?
  • How can researchers and stakeholders practically collaborate to design research? How can law school DR faculty collaborate with other (law school) faculty to design and conduct research?

We look forward to discussing these issues with many of you at the Pepperdine conference.

If you have any thoughts you would like to share about these questions, before or after the conference, please email them to Nancy Welsh, the chair of the new ABA committee, and me.

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