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

Center for the Study of Dispute Resolution Symposium

October 9-10, 2014
Hulston Hall

In cooperation with the University of Missouri International Center and the University of Missouri Transatlantic Center, with additional support from the Office of the Vice Provost for International Programs. Competition sponsored by the Lawyers Conference of the Judicial Division of the American Bar Association (ABA).



Brochure (PDF)

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 policy making 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.

This symposium seeks to improve the understanding of judicial education by considering several related issues.  First, if judicial education is intended to improve those skills and attributes that are unique to judges, then it is critical to understand what it is that judges do.  Therefore, a number of symposium participants will consider what it means to be a judge and what it is about judging that is different than other sorts of decision-making.

The second set of issues involves questions of pedagogy and purpose.  For example, what is the goal of judicial education?  Is it to convey information, skills or a particular cultural mindset?  Indeed, is it even reasonable to aspire to teaching what might be called the art of judging?  Though critical, these issues have seldom been discussed.  Several panelists in this symposium will nevertheless address these core concerns.

The third and final set of questions relates to educational techniques.  For example, how do questions of content affect teaching methodologies?  Do judges want (and benefit from) courses in substantive or procedural law, or are skills- or theory-based sessions better?  Given recent budget shortfalls, can distance learning replace person-to-person learning in some or all circumstances?

A distinguished set of jurists and academics will discuss these important and largely novel inquiries in conjunction with a keynote address by the Honorable Duane Benton of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.  Persons interested in theoretical and practical issues relating to judicial administration and education at the state, federal and international level should plan on attending.  Those who write in this field should also consider participating in the works-in-progress conference convened by the University of Missouri School of Law and the Center for the Study of Dispute Resolution in association with this symposium.

Continuing Legal Education Credit

Continuing legal education credit for the states of Kansas and Missouri will be sought for this symposium.  More information will be provided closer to the date.

University of Missouri and the Center for the Study of Dispute Resolution

The University of Missouri’s award-winning program in dispute resolution consistently ranks as one of the best in the nation.  The University of Missouri School of Law is the only U.S.-based institution that has received Recognised Course Provider status from the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) for JD and LLM courses offered during the academic year.

The mission of the Center for the Study of Dispute Resolution (CSDR) is to develop and promote:

  1. Appropriate methods for understanding, managing and resolving domestic and international conflict.
  2. The use of dispute resolution techniques to enhance informed decisionmaking.

In furtherance of that mission, the CSDR fosters comprehensive approaches to lawyering and decisionmaking and promotes the appropriate use of alternative processes of dispute resolution through engagement in legal and interdisciplinary scholarship; law school teaching and curriculum initiatives; educational services to legal and dispute resolution professionals; law reform related to dispute resolution; and direct dispute resolution services.

For more on the University of Missouri and the Center for the Study of Dispute Resolution, click here.

Journal of Dispute Resolution

Papers from the 2014 Symposium will be published in the Journal of Dispute Resolution. The Journal was established in 1984 and is recognized as a leading legal publication in the area of alternative dispute resolution. The Journal contains articles written by nationally and internationally prominent authors and students on a wide variety of topics in the field of dispute resolution.