It was the summer of 1991, and Hamline’s Bobbi McAdoo was serving as a visiting professor at Pepperdine University when she began to see a clear vision of what was possible at Hamline.
“We already had started a number of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) activities in the (Hamline) law school curriculum,” she recalled. “I realized we could pull these activities together more systematically to create an effective niche for Hamline. I called then-Dean (George) Latimer one early morning California time and said, ‘George, I’ve got a really good idea.’”
As it turns out, it was an outstanding idea. Today, 20 years later, Hamline University School of Law proudly houses one of the most renowned ADR programs in the world. Its Dispute Resolution Institute (DRI) is at the forefront of ADR scholarship and teaching, offering expert-led domestic and international programs. Hamline equips law students and lawyers with practice tools and a global perspective, both needed now more than ever if meaningful legal work is to be accomplished in a world that has become increasingly interconnected.
“I felt strongly from the beginning that we needed to expose our students to experts wherever the experts happened to live,” Professor McAdoo said of those early days.
“Giving our students this access was also a good way to let other people know about what we were doing – it helped us build our network in a really effective way. And we also were intentional from the beginning about the importance of good advocacy in ADR processes. Even in the earliest of classes, our advice to students was, ‘you are not going to go out and be a mediator right away; it’s really important for you to know, though, about the mediation process because you are going to be representing clients as an advocate in those mediation processes.’”
Beginning with trainings for judges and lawyers, DRI, in collaboration with the Mediation Center, has maintained a strong commitment to providing service to the local community. In 2009, the Mediation Center formally merged with Hamline and as the praxis arm of DRI, the Center provides mediation services to families and training for professionals who serve as neutrals. DRI has assisted the courts in developing policies and rules governing court ADR programs and providing training and evaluation of programs.
In addition, DRI has stayed true to its initial vision while expanding its focus beyond Saint Paul, Minnesota to encompass study abroad programs in Budapest, Jerusalem and London and partnerships in China, India, Italy, Spain, France, and Turkey.
“From Bobbi’s (founding Director McAdoo) very first plans for DRI to Jim’s (longest serving Director Coben) expansion internationally, the goal of the Institute has always been the same—to produce better prepared lawyers who add value and solve problems,” said current Director Sharon Press. “Over the years, the Institute has grown and expanded beyond its initial focus solely on law students and lawyers. But in the end, Hamline University School of Law understands that solving problems is what lawyers do.”
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