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7 Elon Law Review 225 (2015)


Influenced by critiques of legal education, law schools are scrambling to offer more and better opportunities for experiential education. To fulfill the new demands for experiential education, one obvious place to turn is clinic pedagogy, which has developed methodologies for teaching students in the real-practice settings of in-house clinics and externships. As the interest in experiential education broadens, a wider spectrum of teaching methodologies comes under the experiential tent, creating opportunities to tap new sources of guidance for reshaping legal education.

This article turns the spotlight on one of these other, less obvious resources within legal education: the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) movement. Like the lawyering skills movement in clinical legal education, the ADR movement has drawn from the wisdom of other disciplines to explain and theorize the practice of specific dispute resolution processes like mediation and negotiation. Perhaps more importantly, the ADR movement has provided important justification and elaboration of the underlying commitment to client-centered problem solving, which also animates much of the lawyering skills literature that has arisen from clinical pedagogy.

This article traces the problem-solving focus through its development in the ADR movement and demonstrates the similarities between some of the key components of the ADR movement and clinical pedagogy. Finally, it explains how a law school can build on the synergies between these two fields to craft an experiential education program that uses client problem solving as its unifying theme, using the ongoing curricular reforms at Hamline University School of Law as an example.