Global Revision

Here is one student's response to an assignment which required him to produce a memorandum exploring in depth some topic related to mediation. The issue presented in this memorandum is "Whether New York State should implement a mandatory mediation program for residential real estate transaction disputes."

The outline of the first draft consisted of:

  1. Introduction
    (This section explains the basic definition of alternate dispute resolution, or ADR, and gives a thumbnail history)
  2. Advantages of Mediation
    (Under each subpoint, one paragraph treats the topic generally, while a second discusses its specific application to residential real estate transactions, or RRET)
    1. Creative Resolutions
    2. Client Control
    3. Informal Process
    4. Client Education
    5. Savings of Time and Saving of Costs
  3. Disadvantages of Mediation
    (Again, under each subpoint, one paragraph treats the topic generally, while a second discusses its specific application to residential real estate transactions. Section III, unlike II, includes a brief umbrella paragraph before the subpoints.)
    1. Appearance of Weakness
    2. Client saying too much
  4. Court-Ordered Mediation for Residential Real Estate Disputes
    (This section covers mandatory mediation in other types of disputes in other states, briefly reiterates the unique aspects of RRET disputes, and advises New York to adopt mandatory mediation in these cases.)

In this draft, defining and explaining the basic ideas of ADR take precedence. Residential real estate transactions (RRET) issues do not come into the introduction at all, and when they appear in sections II and III, they seem to be presented as specific examples of the general principles of mediation. An in-depth exploration of the issue is deferred until section IV, and the organization of this section is not laid out with subheadings, as are the previous sections.

This is, in fact, a perfectly fine first draft. The student is plainly thinking his way through the concepts of ADR, in accordance with the goals of his course, and applying RRET step-by-step to each important facet of mediation. The real heart of the memorandum, mandated mediation for RRET disputes in New York State, comes up at the end and is not fully fleshed out; this is perfectly logical, since the student must have a solid understanding of the foregoing material in order to formulate a strong argument about it. In other words, the student has produced good raw material, but not a good final product.

The next draft shows a more reader-oriented outlook. The student's revised outline is as follows:

  1. Introduction
    (This introduction sets up the entire memorandum, indicating some of the unique aspects of RRET disputes, how mediation might be best suited to resolve them, and why mediation should be mandated in these instances.)
  2. What is ADR
    1. Advantages of Mediation
      1. Creative Solutions
      2. Client Control
      3. Client Education
      4. Cost and Time
    2. Disadvantages of Mediation
      1. Appearance of Weakness
      2. Forced Mediation
  3. Mediation as applied to Residential Real Estate Transactions
    1. Advantages of Mediation in RRET
      1. Creative Solutions
      2. Client Control
      3. Client Education
      4. Cost and Time
    2. Disadvantages of Mediation in RRET
      1. Appearance of Weakness
      2. Forced Mediation
  4. Court-Mandated Mediation
    1. Successful Court Mandated Programs
    2. Court Mandated Mediation in RRET Disputes
    3. Court Mandated Mediation in New York
  5. Conclusion

During the revision process, the student wrote an entirely new introduction. Rather than offering an introduction to mediation in general, Section I forms an introduction to the writer's ideas about mediation in New York State residential real estate transactions. He was, however, able to maintain much of the material from his original introduction, relocating it to a more appropriate spot. Likewise, the material from his former sections II and III survived in this draft, but were ordered differently. By separating general and RRET-specific themes, and by subtly changing the outline to reflect the new organization, the author was able to give a quick, thorough overview of general mediation principles, then plunge into his specific interest. You might also note that during the revision process, the student eliminated his original point III B, replacing it with a new idea at point III B 1. Section IV now has a more clearly delineated structure, which is now possible because of the author's clarification of his own ideas as well as a more readerly orientation. Finally, the student has added a conclusion that both rounds off the memorandum and reinforces the main argument.

Although a certain amount of work was involved in restructuring this memorandum, it's important to note that much of the material that was drafted originally did find a home in the final. The differences between the two drafts arise from the student's own sense of authority and expertise, developed by proceeding beyond an initial draft whose primary goal was to address a class assignment.

To compare these two versions in detail, view the earlier draft and the later draft .