Symposia & Events

In 1999 the Center hosted the first of many annual symposia that would combine a live day of panel discussions with written articles that would be featured in a Symposium Edition of the Journal of Dispute Resolution.  The first symposium featured Harvard Professor Frank Sander, one of the earliest leader in the then emerging field of dispute resolution, appropriately speaking about “The Future of ADR”.  Since then, the top level academics and leaders of the field have traveled to Columbia to present and discuss on a variety of dispute resolution topics.

Center for the Study of Dispute Resolution symposium 2015 brochure

Beyond the FAA: Arbitration Procedure, Practice, and Policy in Historical Perspective

November 13, 2015

The Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), enacted in 1925, provides a framework for how we think about and practice arbitration in the United States today. Yet, the FAA is relatively new on the horizon, historically speaking. Prior to the American Revolution, arbitration flourished not only in England, but also in the English colonies in North America, where customary English arbitration practice and procedure were adapted to local circumstances. Following the American Revolution, new American state legislatures passed arbitration statutes that often encouraged arbitration as a matter of public policy, while also codifying the procedures for its practice. Yet, these state statutes did not eliminate the customary systems of arbitration already in use. Neither did they replace arbitration as it was practiced by distinct groups, such as religious communities. As a result, disputants wishing to utilize arbitration could choose from a diverse array of arbitration procedures.


Judicial Education and the Art of Judging: From Myth to Methodology

October 9-10, 2014

Judges and the judicial process have long been scrutinized by lawyers and legal academics. As a result, a large and ever-increasing body of literature has developed on matters relating to judicial appointments, judicial independence, judicial policymaking and the like. However, there is an extremely limited amount of information on how an appointee learns to be a judge.

Conventional wisdom suggests that judges arrive on the bench already equipped with all the skills necessary to manage a courtroom and dispense justice fully, fairly and rapidly. However, social scientists have identified a demonstrable link between judicial education and judicial performance, which suggests it is vitally important to identify and improve on best practices in judicial education.


Resolving IP Disputes: Calling for an Alternative Paradigm

October 4, 2013

Patents now pervade the American business culture and marketplace. The number of issued patents continues to increase as does the intensity of enforcement. Most new products and services are covered by one or more patents — only some of which are owned by the manufacturer or service provider.

Patents have the potential of serving as tools for business transactions — a legal mechanism for capturing and transferring the value of innovation while allowing the resulting information to be spread widely. However, patent enforcement through litigation is incredibly expensive and time consuming. Litigation costs regularly exceed $10 million in contested cases and lasts for years.


Overcoming Barriers in Preparing Law Students for Real-World Practice

October 19, 2012

There is a growing consensus that American law schools need to do a better job of preparing students to practice law. Teaching students to “think like a lawyer” is still important but it is not enough for students to be able to act like a lawyer soon after they graduate.

Training lawyers is especially difficult because lawyers work on many types of problems, both when handling disputes and negotiating transactions. Some legal disputes are resolved at trial or on appeal, but most are resolved through other processes in the “shadow of the law.” Although legal education has evolved in recent decades, the legacy of the Langdellian system makes it hard to combine instruction in legal doctrine, practical skills, and clinical experience.

Recognizing the general problems of legal education is fairly easy. Solving them can be quite hard. Law schools serve many constituencies that have demanding and diverse interests. Needed time and money are scarce and there is no one-size-fits-all solution.


Border Skirmishes: The Intersection Between Litigation and International Commercial Arbitration

October 21, 2011

Once upon a time, international commercial arbitration and litigation were considered mutually exclusive means of resolving transnational disputes. However, those days appear to be gone forever. Instead, the existence of an arbitration agreement in a transnational dispute seems to be nothing more than an invitation for lawyers to engage in extensive (and expensive) tactical maneuvering in a variety of venues, both arbitral and judicial.

Some may see creative strategizing as the natural by-product of the significant amounts of money that are often at issue in these sorts of disputes. However, the border skirmishes between international commercial arbitration and litigation can also be attributed to the uncertainty that arises when the substantive and procedural laws of different jurisdictions collide.


Alternative Dispute Resolution and The Rule of Law: Making the Connection

October 15, 2010

On the face of it, the Rule of Law and Alternative Dispute Resolution seem fundamentally at odds.

The Rule of Law, after all, compels the use of formal rules to decide disputes. ADR, on the other hand, calls for the resolution of disputes through processes that do not depend upon the application of formal rules, such as negotiation and mediation. The two could not seem to be farther apart.

But a closer look suggests that ADR and the Rule of Law are not mutually exclusive. Judicial and administrative dispute resolution programs are common throughout the state and federal courts and governments. Increasingly, too, ADR processes such as town halls, study circles, and citizen juries, are being used to facilitate community dialogue on a wide range of public issues, from neighborhood blight to national health care. Moreover, many of our most established ADR processes – arbitration, mediation, even negotiation – are dependent upon the law to secure such crucial functions as enforcement, confidentiality, and legitimacy.

So, just what is the relationship between the ADR and the Rule of Law? Are they simply incompatible? Can they be mutually supportive? What do we know about this relationship, and what do we need to fine out?

To date, little consideration has been given to such questions. It is time, now, to have that discussion. Domestically, judicial and administrative ADR programs have become institutionalized, but serious questions about their legitimacy remain. Internationally, promotion of the Rule of Law remains a hallmark of U.S. foreign policy, but implementation remains a challenge in the face of traditions of graft, corruption and violence. Can ADR help?

This symposium is a first-ever convening of scholars and practitioners from across the globe to consider this relationship more deeply.


The Creeping Legalism Labor Arbitration

October 9, 2009

As a method of dispute resolution, labor arbitration falls somewhere in between non-binding forms of dispute resolution and more formal dispute resolution processes. This “in-between” status has made it difficult at times for the participants in labor arbitration to decide what role the law and legally related constructs should play in labor arbitration.

For many years, practitioners and scholars intensively debated the extent to which labor arbitration was becoming too legalistic. While little attention was paid to this issue in the 1990s, recent developments have made the “creeping legalism” issue particularly relevant. First, the increased regulation of the employment relationship has placed labor arbitrators in a position to interpret issues of external law when deciding collective bargaining disputes. Second, the proliferation in the use of individual employee rights arbitration, which by nature is more legalistic, might have affected the practice of labor arbitration. To the extent that some of the same players participate in both, labor and employee rights arbitration, one would expect the legalistic character of individual employee rights arbitration to spillover to labor arbitration, and perhaps other forms of alternative dispute resolution. The recent United States Supreme Court’s decision in 14 Penn Plaza LLC v. Pyett, which holds that a bargaining contract provision requiring employees to arbitrate age discrimination claims is enforceable and thus precludes later litigation of such claims, accentuates the importance of this issue.


Collaborative Governance:The Future of Regulation: An Interdisciplinary and International Review

April 2-3, 2009

President Obama recently emphasized that government should be both participatory and collaborative. Collaboration, when properly executed, expands the information and insight that is available to agencies, and the focused deliberation can result in policies that would be difficult to achieve otherwise. The essence of collaboration is the bilateral nature of the discussions, with the agency engaging in a give and take, instead of simply informing itself to make the decision alone.

Collaboration can take many forms and be employed throughout the regulatory process: it might be a scoping session to develop the issues that need to be taken into account in a new rule; it might be a policy dialogue or roundtable in which the science or other important components are discussed; it might be recommendations to the agency concerning a proposed rule; or, indeed, the collaboration might be entirely within the private sector to establish a policy in lieu of mandatory regulation. While these are certainly helpful in informing the agency, they stop short of securing the ultimate benefit of collaboration: an actual agreement on the major provisions of a new policy.


Innovative Models of Lawyering: Collaborative Law and Other Processes

October 12, 2007

The Center sponsored a symposium entitled “Innovative Models of Lawyering: Collaborative Law and Other Processes.” David Hoffman, the founding partner of the Boston Law Collaborative, LLC, and a former chair of the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution, gave the keynote presentation entitled, “Practicing Law as Form of Dispute Resolution: Towards a Unified Field Theory of ADR.” Prof. John Lande presented the results of his empirical study of Cooperative Practice in Wisconsin and Center Director Robert Bailey and Prof. Stephen Easton moderated discussions. Articles based on the presentations will be published in the Journal of Dispute Resolution, including an article by Lawrence P. McLellan (LLM ’06).