Writing in Mediation Training for Law Practice

Professor Beryl Blaustone

In the fourth-semester Lawyering Seminar, Mediation Training for Law Practice, Prof. Beryl Blaustone introduces students to the role of the mediator in dispute resolution, as students consider theories of mediation, practice a range of mediation skills, and develop a critical lawyering perspective on the use of this process. Throughout the semester, students participate in skill-building exercises and role-plays culminating in a videotaped mediation simulation. An organic component of this course work is a series of student writings that reinforce skills development and foster a capacity for self-reflection. These writings, compiled as entries in a master file for each student, include clinical self-inventories drafted at the beginning and close of the semester, and various task-related writings to help students prepare for discrete stages of the mediation process. As a complement to these skill- and task-focused writings, students work on a semester-long, scaffolded writing project that permits them to explore areas of specific interest in mediation and enables them to deepen their understanding of an area. The writing takes the form of an interoffice memo of objective analysis of law and/or policy. For this project, each student designs a research topic focusing on a legal or policy issue related to mediation, refines an issue statement, develops a written research plan with an outline and statement of analysis, and drafts and revises a memorandum on the issue. At each stage of the research and writing process, students meet with Prof. Blaustone individually and/or in small groups. Students receive instruction from CUNY'S Law Library Director, Prof. Julie Lim, in advanced on-line legal research to support this writing experience. Writing Center faculty and CUNY Writing Fellows also work closely with Prof. Blaustone to plan, coordinate, and pace the later stages of writing and feedback. Before submitting the draft memorandum and the revised version to Prof. Blaustone, each student meets individually with a CUNY Writing Fellow to review questions of form, organization, and clarity of expression. The collaboration with the Writing Center extends to this web site, which features an annotated example of early and revised versions of a former Seminar student's interoffice memo and memo outline. Students refer to this web resource every year as they work through the process of shaping and refining their own memo. Both versions of the memo and memo outline appear here. The course thus models an ongoing collaborative project and a pervasive use of writing to integrate theory, clinical skills development, and considerations of professional role.