To be an effective lawyer today, it is vital to be skilled in dispute resolution processes other than litigation. Many legal disputes do not reach the inside of the courtroom. More and more matters are resolved through the use of mediation, in which a neutral third party assists disputants in their pursuit of a just outcome.
Moritz’s Mediation Clinic, which began in 1983, is one of the oldest and most renowned law school clinics of its kind. Through intensive training; classroom lectures, discussions, and exercises; and live clinical experiences, students learn how to become effective mediators, while also studying key issues involving different types of mediation, methods, and the state of the law and mediation. Students learn and practice crucial communication skills that enable them to effectively sort through challenging disputes between parties who are often passionate and adamant in their positions, and allow those parties to more effectively communicate with each other. In some semesters, the clinic focuses on multiparty controversies.
In the classroom, students study the legal, ethical, and policy issues that have emerged with the increased use of mediation and other facilitation processes for the resolution of disputes. After receiving extensive mediation skills training, students mediate disputes at the Franklin County Municipal Court and as part of the Columbus City Attorney’s Prosecution Resources Unit Mediation Program under the observation of their clinical supervisor. Moritz students mediate 50 to more than 100 disputes each semester at the court and prosecutor’s office.
“What really comes to light in mediations isn’t so much the legal arguments that people have, but a lot of it is emotional,” Sasja Tse, a 2L, said. “You really find that people want to have their day in court, they want their justice. And whether or not that’s really achieved in mediation is up to how the parties are able to interact, which, again, has a lot to do with the mediator and how they’re able to facilitate that discussion. Other than that I think mediation helped me not only as a lawyer in training to really learn to listen to people, but it helped me in my personal life, too. It taught me really fantastic communication skills, which are applicable not only in the mediation setting but in day-to-day conversation, whether it’s with my family, or friends, or any other client that I may have. You really learn to appreciate that it’s not just about the law, it’s about people and how they feel and what they want to accomplish out of everything.”