If You Had Only One Hour to Describe ADR, What Would You Say?

This was the question I had to answer when planning a lecture.  I was a speaker in a course offered by the Universidad Monteavila in Caracas, Venezuela.  My wonderful colleague, Rafael Gely, organized this collaboration with Missouri’s DR Center to provide a series of speakers, including me.

My Venezuelan colleague told me that I could talk about anything I wanted.  There were some constraints because my Missouri colleagues would discuss other topics and obviously we didn’t want to have a lot of overlap.  The other speakers would discuss an overview of ADR methods, negotiation theory, labor arbitration, mediation and arbitration ethics, and dispute system design.

This was my one chance to share my ideas with them, and I wanted to cover things I think are especially important.  So I developed a lecture covering my definition of (A)DR, problems in lawyer-client relationships, relationships between counterpart lawyers, a broad understanding of negotiation, basic mediation theory, court-ordered mediation, dispute system design, early dispute resolution, litigation interest and risk assessment techniques, conflict diagnosis, and theory of change for dispute resolution. Obviously, I couldn’t go into any of this in great detail, but I wanted to convey basic ideas about all of these things.

The students speak English and they were assigned a series of readings about these topics.  The class was two hours, so my presentation left time for class discussion.

There now is little ADR infrastructure or practice in Venezuela and I wanted to convey my perspectives about experience in the US to help students consider what future ADR leaders might or might not want to emulate in their country.

If you want to use some or all of this material for your courses, here’s the reading assignment, powerpoint, and a video of a generic version of the presentation (which actually runs 70 minutes).  For example, you might assign students to read the powerpoint.  There’s a slide at the end with links to pieces that provide more detail.

If you had an hour to tell what you thought was most important to know about ADR, what would you say?