Alternative Dispute Resolution: Mediation Theory and Practice
Law (School of)
Undergraduate: Level 6
Monday 13 January 2020
Friday 20 March 2020
26 April 2019
Requisites for this module
This is a highly practical module with experiential and intensive small group learning in its forefront. You will enjoy and do well in this module if you would like to help parties to conflict settle their disagreement, enjoy interactive tasks and take practical work very seriously. The module is capped at 50 students. The classes are designed and delivered in the form of "Interactive Lectures", "Discussion Seminars, and "Experiential Workshops". The aim of the module is to provide students a detailed overview and an in-depth and understanding of theoretical concepts in the background of mediation, an increasingly prominent method of dispute resolution in the UK and abroad and the most widely used method of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). As its core element the module aims at enhancing students' practical skills necessary for a successful mediation.
The module aims:
1. To familiarise students with great depth and breadth in the field of conflict dynamics and dispute resolution, including ADR theory relevant to mediation
2. To familiarise students with great depth and breadth in the mediation process and the mediator's skills, both from a practical and theoretical perspective
3. To develop understanding of the field of integrative bargaining, both from a practical and theoretical perspective
4. To develop students' skills of working with conflicting parties in mediation
5. To develop students' transferable skills mainly in the field of communication
6. To enhance students' skills necessary for becoming a self-reflective and self-aware legal practitioner
On successful completion the student will
1. Be able to demonstrate familiarity with ADR theory relevant to mediation and negotiation, conflict dynamics and dispute resolution techniques that can address these
2. Be able to demonstrate a good understanding of the ADR movement, key differences between ADR techniques and those of mainstream legal approaches to dispute resolution
3. Be able to demonstrate a good understanding of the process of mediation and negotiation with regard to questions of practice and theory
4. Have had the opportunity to develop a capacity to apply some of the key skills in mock mediation and negotiation settings
5. Have had the opportunity to develop a keen eye for detail in human behaviour and communication in conflict and further enhance skills necessary to work with these in mock settings
6. Be increasingly reflective and recognise the relationship between self-awareness and good legal professional practice
Experiential and intensive small group learning will be in the forefront of this module. The module will be taught in a combination of interactive lectures, discussion seminars and experiential workshops in order to provide the suitable blend of theoretical basis and practical, phenomenological understanding of the issues involved in, and the skills and qualities required for working with individuals in conflict, with emphasis on a mediation setting (phenomenology focuses on the lived experience). The aim of the module is to provide students a detailed overview and an in-depth and understanding of theoretical concepts in the background of mediation, an increasingly prominent method of dispute resolution in the UK and abroad and the most widely used method of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
The module will explore the psychological underpinnings of conflict, conflictual behaviour and communication in-depth. Insights gained will be applied to the context of negotiation (integrative or interest-based bargaining). Concepts of and skills for an effective negotiation will be further transferred to enhance students' understanding of the dynamics of conflict resolution via mediation and develop their capacity to engage with conflicting parties in mock mediation settings.
Due to the heightened experiential nature of the work involved in the module, experiential workshops will be held for groups of max 12 students, and the module is capped at 50 students. Should a higher number of students express interest in the module enrolment will be based on students' overall grades achieved in the previous years of their studies (L4 and L5).
In the course of future development of the clinical activity at Essex Law School there is a potential that students of this module, will have the opportunity to be exposed to real life mediations, initially as observers, as part of work of the Law and/or Mediation Clinic.
The following list is indicative of the specific topics to be covered during the module
1. In-depth self-reflective practice: reflection for learning and professional development
2. Theoretical underpinnings of mediation, its contextual backgrounds, aims, ADR theory relevant to mediation and negotiation
3. Legal regulations relevant to mediation practice
4. Exploration of the psychological underpinnings of conflict, conflict communication and conflict interventions: the process of conflict escalation, e.g. perceptual distortions, fundamental attribution error; emotional and cognitive impact of conflict; conflict communication, e.g. deconstructing conflicts, dealing with anger, aggression; factors to consider when working with high conflict parties
5. Negotiation skills and practices, e.g. game theory in the background of negotiation techniques; the structure of problem-solving and the theory of needs- a non -distributive view of legal negotiation; integrative negotiation as a doorstep of mediation
6. Exploring mediation from different angles 1: the main approaches to mediation (transformative, facilitative, evaluative mediation); facilitative mediation in focus- variances that make a difference between mediation models
7. Exploring mediation from different angles 2: characteristics of the mediation process in different contexts, e.g. family and divorce mediation, commercial and civil mediation, workplace and employment mediation
8. Deepening the exploration of the mediation process and the mediator skills: the phases of mediation; the mediator's roles, skills and tools as used in the various phases, e.g. what "should" a mediator be/act like?, rapport in mediation, the use of caucus, mediation intake and its functions, facilitating storytelling, problem-solving and negotiation, mediation as a process of learning
In interactive lectures theory, concepts, policies, and competencies key to alternative dispute resolution, conflict dynamics and mediation will be introduced. The lectures will involve a range of methods, e.g. pair work, discussion, and analysis of videos of mediation processes.
In seminars discussion will be generated about theory and research output relevant to the curriculum. The concepts and findings analysed will draw on a blend of disciplines including dispute resolution, psychology and communication. Micro scenarios, exercises and the analysis of ADR video clips will be used to facilitate an in-depth understanding and set the stage for experiential learning to be continued in the workshops.
In workshops students will be engaged experientially via participation in simulations, role plays and exercises to enhance their "insider" perspective and understanding of issues implicated in the use of mediation. The workshops will explore each phase of mediation and the mediator's role at each stage in a sequence. Mediation requires development of and reflection on a range of readily transferable organisational and inter-personal communications skills. Although this module does not serve to qualify students to practice as mediators, knowledge of mediation (and ADR in general) and awareness of some of the skills and issues involved will be of significant use in many professional settings.
In order to take advantage of the results of the blended cognitive and behavioural engagement with the material it is vital that students carry out the required preparation and full-heartedly take part in the prescribed activities. Therefore, attendance and active participation are compulsory.
- McCorkle, Suzanne; Reese, Melanie. (2019) Mediation theory and practice, Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, Inc.
- Brown, Henry J. (2018) 'Chapter 5: ADR and the Courts', in ADR principles and practice, London: Sweet & Maxwell., pp.67-91
- (2018) Advancing Workplace Mediation Through Integration of Theory and Practice, Cham: Springer.
- Sternlight, Jean R. (2011) 'Chapter 7: Mediation: Skills and Practices for the Mediator and the Attorney in Mediation', in Dispute resolution: beyond the adversarial model, New York: Aspen Publishers., pp.269-297
- Jandt, Fred Edmund. (2016) Conflict and communication, Los Angeles: SAGE.
- Roberts, Simon; Michael Palmer. (2005) Dispute Processes: Cambridge University Press.
- Menkel-Meadow, Carrie; Love, Lela Porter; Schneider, Andrea Kupfer; Moffitt, Michael L. (2019) Dispute resolution: beyond the adversarial model, New York: Wolters Kluwer.
- Sternlight, Jean R. (2011) 'Chapter 6: Mediation: Concepts and Models', in Dispute resolution: beyond the adversarial model, New York: Aspen Publishers., pp.223-266
- Brown, Henry J. (2018) ADR principles and practice, London: Sweet & Maxwell.
- Lewicki, Roy J.; Barry, Bruce; Saunders, David M. (2016) Essentials of negotiation, Dubuque: McGraw-Hill Education.
- Myers, David G.; Abell, Jackie; Sani, Fabio. (c2014) Social psychology, Maidenhead: McGraw Hill.
- Fisher, Roger; Ury, William; Patton, Bruce. (2012) Getting to yes: negotiating an agreement without giving in, London: Random House Business.
- Beer, Jennifer E; Stief, Eileen; Packard, Caroline C. (2012) The mediator's handbook, [Gabriola Island, British Columbia]: New Society Publishers.
- Fells, R. E. (2016) Effective negotiation: from research to results, Port Melbourne, VIC: Cambridge University Press.
- Liebmann, Marian. (©2000) Mediation in context, Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
- Robbennolt, Jennifer K.; Sternlight, Jean R. (2012) Psychology for lawyers: understanding the human factors in negotiation, litigation, and decision making, Chicago, IL: American Bar Association.
- Bush, Robert A. Baruch; Folger, Joseph P. (©2005) The promise of mediation: the transformative approach to conflict, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.
Assessment items, weightings and deadlines
|Coursework / exam
||Participation and Attendance
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Timea Tallodi
Law General Office, 01206 872529, email@example.com
Prof Margaret Ross
University of Aberdeen
Professor of Law
Available via Moodle
Of 62 hours, 62 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).
Law (School of)
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