Law students learn the skills and processes of facilitative mediation and mediate legal disputes in a variety of community settings. Traditionally, legal disputes have been resolved through an adversarial process culminating in a trial, but the clear trend in recent years has been away from trials. Nationally about 97 percent of all civil cases are resolved through some type of settlement process short of trial. Alternatives to the adversarial process are becoming an integral part of the practice of law and will become even more so in the future.
Although mediators have no authoritative decision-making power, as neutral third parties they facilitate communication between the parties, assist in identifying issues, and help explore solutions to promote a mutually acceptable settlement.
Michigan Law graduates may choose to qualify and serve as mediators in the course of their professional practice. But whether they are mediators or not, lawyers need to be comfortable with the process so they can advise clients when to use mediation and represent clients through mediation.
The clinic combines training and community service. Students have the personal satisfaction of helping resolve actual conflicts between real people, which adds immeasurably to the experience.
By the end of the Mediation Clinic semester, students may be eligible to be placed on the court-approved list of general civil mediators in Michigan.