In the Mediation Clinic, students learn professional neutral intervention skills that allow parties to resolve their disputes. As mediators, students help parties resolve landlord tenant, family, neighbor and employment-related disputes. Interns work in two-person teams to co-mediate cases under direct faculty supervision and second–seat faculty in complex cases. Clinic interns study the substantive law in the matters we mediate including contract law, disability and anti-discrimination law, and court procedures/protocol for dispute resolution. Students also study mediation and dispute resolution theory from a multi-disciplinary perspective.
Highlights of Mediation Clinic
- Observing mediations in the courts, administrative agencies and community centers
- Mediating cases in the courts, administrative agencies and community centers
- Mediating with attorneys who represent plaintiffs/complainants and/or defendants/respondents
- Mediating in multicultural and cross-lingual settings, often with interpreters/translators
Typical Student Practice
This fall, two legal interns mediated a case involving misdemeanor criminal charges and property damage. The dispute involved two West Indian women who became competing business women in the community and who had ended their long friendship despite overlapping relationships among their extended families. This mediation resulted in their adoption of some guidelines for future interaction.
Together with her faculty supervisor, another legal intern mediated a case involving claims of discrimination based on age, ethnic origin, and disability. This case involved a series of negotiations with the employer’s in-house counsel, employer’s private outside counsel, the union’s legal counsel, the complainant’s attorney and the complainant. After these negotiations, the complainant was fully reinstated to his position with retroactive benefits and salary.
Legal interns work on a range of projects that directly assist ongoing work in the field or that help build the Mediation Clinic.
Past projects include:
- Drafting policy memos for mediation programs
- Drafting portions of the Mediation Clinic Manual
- Researching and evaluating pilot juvenile victim-offender mediation program
- Providing community outreach and education for the Clinic's Mediation in Employment Discrimination Project
Collaborative & Interdisciplinary Practice
Students learn collaborative theory and skills in conducting all aspects of their assigned clinical duties. Students are able to identify a range of legal and non-normative issues in each case. Interns formulate their individual theoretical framework for incorporating different models of mediation practice, the law, and professional standards. Interns learn how to evaluate whether a particular case should be litigated or mediated. Interns also develop a thorough understanding of the lawyering tasks in legal representation of parties in mediation.
Class time is devoted to integrating the law, theory and skills in the different substantive areas of our mediation practice. During class time, legal interns also participate in structured group feedback discussions of the cases they have mediated during that week. Legal interns also participate in smaller group meetings and individual meetings with the faculty supervisors. Legal interns leave the Mediation Clinic experience with developed lawyering skills and knowledge of areas of law that are valuable in any aspect of future law practice.
Our graduates are engaged in a variety of mediation practices and law practice. Clinic graduates have directed a well-established mediation center in New York City, conducted a mediation pilot program for employment discrimination and mediated cases as a law clerk for a New Jersey judge. Another graduate was hired as an associate in a family law practice which includes both mediation services and legal representation. Most graduates continue to offer their mediation services to courts and community programs. Graduates have also successfully incorporated their mediation skills into other areas of law practice including personal injury representation, elder law, welfare representation, legal services, judicial clerkships and small firm practice. Consult our graduate page for a more in-depth sampling.
Social Justice Mission
The Mediation Clinic provides a forum to those who are under-represented in our society where their grievances can be heard and settled to their satisfaction. The Mediation Clinic is committed to empowering historically disadvantaged or marginalized parties to decide their own disputes. In the Mediation Clinic, interns become self-aware, responsive, creative and non-coercive facilitators who can evaluate whether mediation is appropriate in any given case and with any particular participant.