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Alternative Dispute Resolution

The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) board is an organization that consists of four categories of student competition teams.

1. Client Counseling Team - This team focuses on meeting a client, identifying the client's problem, probing the client for information, advising the client of his or her rights or options, and discussing fees and confidentiality. Students work in pairs and are given a snippet of information about the client's problem prior to the competition. Also, students are made aware of the subject matter involved with the client's problem (i.e., elder law, property law, wills and trusts).

2. Negotiation Team/Environmental Negotiation Team - This team focuses on the art of negotiation and persuasion. Students work in pairs and are given a general information sheet about why and what they want to negotiate with the other side. Also, each team is given a "secret" information sheet with private facts about its client. These "secret" facts are not to be shared with the other teams. These "secret" facts help each team understand a client's wishes and motivations. Based on these general and "secret" facts, the two teams try to negotiate a settlement, contract, lease agreement or whatever goal the clients hope to reach. The environmental negotiation team is identical except that the negotiation topic is always environmental law.

3. Representation In Mediation Team - This team also focuses on the art of negotiation and persuasion, but with a twist. One team member will play the role of the client while the other plays the role of the attorney. In addition to the two teams trying to reach a settlement, contract, lease agreement, etc., a mediator (neutral third-party) helps to facilitate conversation and common ground. Both teams and the mediator meet to discuss each team's position and demands. Each side may ask for a private caucus with the mediator to discuss strategies and positions. During the group sessions and private sessions, the team members MUST stay in their roles as either client or attorney.

4. Student Tax Law Challenge - This team must address a client's tax problem by researching and writing a 10-page memo to its senior partner explaining its proposed course of action. The team must also write a four-page letter to the client explaining its solution to the client's problem. The ABA Tax Division chooses the top four entries to participate in the semi-finals at the ABA mid-year convention. Teams must defend their positions to tax attorneys and judges.

Eligibility

All students who have completed Research and Writing II and have two full semesters remaining (NOT including the summer semester). The semester in which you are currently enrolled counts as one semester.

How Members are Chosen

Members of the teams are chosen through a tryout/competition process, which is held during the fall semester. Whether tryouts are held at all and, if so, the number of new members chosen depends on how many current ADR Board members are graduating and how many positions are open. Tryouts are conducted with pairs of students during two sessions:

Interview Session: Each pair of students will conduct a client interview. Each pair will be given a snippet of information about the client and the client's problem about a week before the tryouts. The pair will then "meet" the client and perform the interview with the client, in front of scoring judges.

Negotiation Session: Each team will engage in a negotiation session against another team. Both teams will receive general information about the negotiation problem. Additionally, each team will receive "secret" information about their client to assist in the negotiation. Again, the general and "secret" information will be given out about a week before the tryouts. The negotiation will take place before a panel of scoring judges.

Just because students try out in pairs does not mean that both students will be chosen to be members of the ADR Board . Only one student may be chosen. Additionally, tryouts are held to fill all three teams, therefore, members chosen from a pair will be assigned to the team that best suits their talents.

If you are chosen as a team member, you will be registered for the Alternative Dispute Resoluton Board class, which is worth one (1) credit hour. I will send a list of all ADR Board members' names to the Registrar's Office for confirmation. Additionally, you must become a member of the American Bar Association/Law Student Division, which costs $25 per year.

Not all team members will participate in a competition each semester. For instance, there are no client counseling or mediation competitions in the fall semester. Also, we will probably choose several alternate members who will help the teams prepare for competition, but may not compete or travel. Stetson pays all of the costs associated with traveling to a competition including registration fees, rental car and/or airline tickets, lodging, and food.

Preparing for Competitions/Practicing

Each team will practice for 3-6 weeks prior to a competition. Practices may be held 3-5 times a week with a faculty coach. Additionally, attorneys and judges may come out to observe and critique practices. Each practice can last 1-2 hours and may take place during the day, in the evening, or on weekends.

Additional Duties

If you are not on a traveling, competition team, you are still required to help run the ADR Board . This may entail researching topics for teams that are competing, sitting in during practices, and helping with other ADR Board functions on campus.

Class

There is a required class component for the ADR Board. Currently, the ADR Board meets on Tuesdays from noon-1:20 p.m. During these classes, we will critique videotapes from past competitions, host lecturers on mediation, negotiation, and client counseling, hold practices for the respective teams, and plan ADR Board events.

ADR Board Wins National Negotiation Competition

Stetson University College of Law’s Alternative Dispute Resolution board won the 2011 Liberty University National Negotiation Competition in Lynchburg, Va. » Read more

Recent ADR Achievements

  • National Environmental Negotiation Competition: Two-time champion and three-time runner-up
  • ABA Representation in Mediation Competition: Three-time regional champion
  • ABA-LSD Arbitration Competition: Past national champion, 2009 regional dual-champions and two-time runner-up
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