Family Alternative Dispute Resolution Clinic (YR)

Section 1, Fall 16

Schedule Information

Enrollment: 4/6
Credits: 4

Course Description

This yearlong clinical course is open to 2L and 3L students. Students will earn a total of 6 credits during two semesters—4 in the Fall and 2 in the Spring. The course focuses on mediation as an alternative dispute resolution method to resolve conflicts involving families and children. Traditional family law practice is adversarial and lawyers represent their clients by negotiating issues or litigating cases. In cases that go to trial, outcomes are determined not by the parties, but by judges. Social science research has demonstrated the potentially harmful effects of adversarial litigation on children, especially since this method of conflict resolution tends to increase rather than decrease conflict between parents. Mediation, an alternative to adversarial litigation, uses a neutral third-party facilitator to guide and empower the parties to reach their own agreements. In this clinic, students will serve, not as attorneys representing clients, but as mediators assisting the parties to develop mutually agreeable resolutions to their disputes. Students will learn about the differences between litigation and mediation while enhancing their negotiation skills—skills that are important in many different substantive law areas. In addition, students will gain a solid understanding of mediation ethics, creative problem solving, and the role of neutral facilitator versus that of advocate.

Course Requirements

Exam Info:
Midterm Type (if any): None
Description: None

Final Type (if any): None

Written Work Product
Written Work Product:

Other Work

Other Course Details
Prerequisites: None Concurrencies: None
Mutually Exclusive With: None
Laptops Allowed: Yes
First Day Attendance Required: No
Course Notes: During the fall semester the Clinic will include a weekly seminar, class discussion, readings, and role play exercises to provide students with a solid understanding of the theory and practice of mediation. Several classes will focus on other ADR methods (e.g., evaluative mediation, collaborative law and restorative justice) that are used in family cases. Particularly challenging skills will be developed using a videotaped exercise with an actor and actress playing the roles of parents involved in a family law dispute. During the spring semester, students will do another videotaped exercise with the actor and actress and focus on co-mediating cases. Following the mediations, small group discussions will be arranged to discuss mediation experiences. In addition, there will be a limited number of Clinic classes at times to be scheduled at an organizational meeting early in the semester. A 12-hour Basic Mediation training at the start of the fall semester will allow students to develop mediation skills such as active listening, paraphrasing, reframing and the drafting of agreements. After completing the training, students will co-mediate cases with court certified family mediators associated with the Mediation Center of Charlottesville. Most of the disputes being mediated will involve child custody and visitation, although some may also include child and spousal support issues. Case referrals for family mediations will come primarily from the local Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts. The facilitative method of mediation will be used for these cases. Supervision will accompany each mediation opportunity. The Basic Mediation training will take place on Saturday, September 3 and Saturday, September 17, 2016. Participation in both days of the full Basic Mediation training is required. Co-mediation assignments will be offered at times that do not conflict with other classes. Co-mediation cases are scheduled Monday-Friday at 9:00 a.m., 12 noon, and 3:00 p.m., and are scheduled to last 2 hours each. A student enrolling in this Clinic needs to ensure opportunities to co-mediate by planning a schedule that leaves one or more of these blocks of time open. (e.g., avoiding classes between 9:00-11:30 a.m. on 2 mornings each week, or avoiding classes between 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. on 2 afternoons each week). Of the six credits awarded for this year-long clinic, four credits will be allocated to the fall semester and two credits to the spring semester for academic load purposes.  

Graduation Requirements

*Satisfies Writing Requirement: No
**Credits For Prof. Skills Requirement: Yes
Satisfies Professional Ethics: No

*Yes means professor requires everyone in the course to submit a substantial research paper (which is the requirement standard in Academic Policies), so no paperwork required to be submitted to SRO. No means student must timely submit paperwork to SRO if intending to use a paper in this course to satisfy the Writing Requirement.

**Yes indicates course credits count towards UVA Law’s Prof. Skills graduation requirement, not necessarily a skills requirements for any particular state bar.

General Information

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Law No.
Modified Type
Cross Listed: No
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Public Syllabus Link: None
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