MSU College of Law

Welcome Message from the Director

Beaumont TowerThe ADR Program at Michigan State College of Law provides skills building without equal at other Michigan Law Schools.   Alternative Dispute Resolution (primarily the processes of Arbitration, Mediation, and Negotiation) is a powerful driver in today’s legal marketplace. More than ever before, disputing parties are turning to conflict resolution processes that are fast, economical, fair and flexible. Given this climate, it is important to acclimate students early in their legal education to both the theoretical underpinnings and practical realities of ADR. With such skills training, students develop the skills necessary to be highly effective advocates. 

With more than 85% of civil cases now resolved through the various types of Alternative Dispute Resolution the field is critically important and impacts the development of modern law. Judicial opinion is, in fact, overwhelmingly supportive of ADR. The Ethics Opinions of the State of Michigan, like most other states, even require counsel to inform clients of ADR alternatives, and, by local rule, circuit course are required to direct parties into mediation. ADR is here to stay, and as a result, students well-versed in its theory and practice are best prepared to become successful 21st century lawyers.

More and more law students, recognizing the impact of ADR on their future profession, are turning to skill-building courses in ADR.

The skills gained in ADR courses are many, ranging from the presentation of a case and its evidence to an arbitration panel to strategizing the best advocacy efforts possible to resolve a dispute in civil mediation to determining the best and worst alternatives to a negotiated agreement to present in a negotiation. While taught in few law courses, these are the skills that best prepare students for real-life resolution of cases, both outside and inside the courtroom.

The core curriculum for MSU College of Law students begins with an innovative 1L required contract negotiation course.  Students in this course create negotiation plans, negotiate a resolution, and draft contracts.  For 2Ls and 3Ls we offer courses that explore the entire range of ADR mechanisms, including negotiations, mediation, labor, commercial and international arbitration. Students also can participate in research and writing on topics current to the ADR field, while enhancing their ADR skills through student competitions held across the nation in such subjects as negotiation, arbitration, and mediation.  Our ADR Society is a student-run organization whose members have a keen interest in increasing student awareness of ADR’s prominence in the field.

Alternative Dispute Resolution was at its inception a new concept to the law that many believed would fail to take hold. Now, it is an everyday reality for lawyers, judges, and others in the legal field and one that will continue to grow by leaps and bounds over the next few years. Students with effective training in ADR concepts and practice will be better positioned to succeed within the legal profession.  As we begin our second decade as a formal program at Michigan State, we invite you to join us in continuing our tradition of excellence.