This fall, Brooklyn Law School launched the Alternative Dispute Resolution Honor Society (ADRHS), an accredited honor organization that grew out of the national student organization of the same name. The new honor society will help prepare students to advocate for clients and settle disputes through mediation, negotiations, and arbitration, as well as other alternative methods.
“The ADRHS recognizes the increasing prevalence of this kind of practice in today’s legal environment and the enormous student interest,” said Faculty Advisor Stacy Caplow, associate dean of professional legal education and professor of law. “In light of the growing number of ADR competitions, it was time to create a third advocacy co-curricular option to complement the Appellate and Trial Divisions of the Moot Court Honor Society.”
When ADRHS held tryouts for first-and second-year students last spring, the student response was overwhelming—200 students applied and 40 were accepted. After an intramural competition to assess skills, students were divided into three areas of alternative dispute resolution: negotiation, mediation, and arbitration.
The teams now are gearing up for competitions throughout the nation in areas of the law such as intellectual property negotiation, international mediation, baseball arbitration, and the securities law triathlon sponsored by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
Students prepare for competitions through coursework (they must take at least two negotiation, mediation, or arbitration seminars), working on written briefs and contracts, and extensive mock practices and simulations aimed at improving creative problem-solving, advocacy, and negotiating skills.
ADRHS President Josephine Dongbang ’17 said students have to not only present arguments, but also appropriately react to the myriad of unexpected reactions and demands made by the other side. “In an ADR setting, it is hard to plan for what you will get from the other side, or what they will withhold,” she said. “We are constantly going up against mock teams with a variety of personalities and obstacles to improve our skill set.”
Unlike moot court competitions where the winner is the student who obtains a favorable judgment, in ADRHS “you are graded on the presentation that you make as a team,” Dongbang said. “The settlement amount doesn’t constitute the ‘winner’ necessarily. If you are a strong advocate and a strong compromiser you can still win.”
Dongbang said alternative dispute resolution skills are critical to budding lawyers. “Most lawsuits get settled out of court, so these are really practical and important skills to master, not only for the negotiating table but in life.”