Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)     Political Science 3490

Fall Term 2013, Tuesdays & Thursdays @ 1:00-2:25 p.m. in PH 205.

Syllabus                                          Click Here For New Instructions

Instructor: Clyde E. Willis, J.D., Ph.D. Telephone: 615-898-5457, E-mail:, Web Address:

Office Hours: MW: 10:00-12:00; T: 9:30 a.m. -10:30 a.m.; & appointment. (Appointments even during office hours are always helpful.)

Course Objectives: This course will help students understand the nature, advantages and disadvantages of resolving disputes in a variety of non-judicial environments. We will examine in some detail many of the ideas, practices, public policy and ethical dimensions of these alternative dispute resolution methods. The major concerns will concern negotiation, arbitration, and mediation.

Readings: Many of the readings and lecture will be drawn from Dispute Resolution and Lawyers: , Second Edition, by Leonard L. Riskin and James E. Westbrook, St. Paul: West Group, 1997. I will reproduce many of the Riskin material for your viewing on these web pages.  Supplemental readings that might be required will be furnished by me throughout the term.

Course Requirements: Besides the readings assigned or distributed, I will ask students to participate in role-play exercises. Your attendance and participation during these sessions will be graded.  We will also have some brief writing assignment such as an office memo that outlines a proposed course of conduct for a client regarding dispute resolution. I will also require you to write a narrative about a conflict situations you have experienced that records your attitude, reaction and the method used to resolve the conflict.  We will have short quizzes on assigned readings, so, it is a worthwhile strategy to keep up with the assigned readings.  We will have a mid-term and a comprehensive final examination of the material covered in class.

Grade Distribution: I will distribute scores as follows: a midterm examination and a comprehensive final examination — primarily consisting of essays will count 50 per cent each. I will translate the following percentages into final letter grades as follows:

B+ = 88-89
B = 80-87

C+ = 78-89
C = 70-77
D+ = 68-69
D = 60-67

Make-up Examinations: I will give make-up examinations at the end of the term to those who have demonstrable reasonable cause and obtain prior permission to miss an examination. If you do not obtain prior permission, please do not request a makeup examination.

Attendance Policy: I expect you to attend all classes, and participate fully in class activities because much of the learning takes place in simulation and class discussion. In addition, your absence will adversely affect your class mates’ learning experience. Thus, I reserve and will exercise the right to lower your grade or to drop you from the course for poor attendance or participation. Moreover, class attendance and participation is 5% of your grade.  If you do not plan to attend class regularly, please be considerate and drop the course now.

Writing Requirement: You have reached a level of education that requires that you be judged by how effectively you communicate in writing as well as by what and how much you know by how. Just as a major requirement for success in the legal system is an ability to write well, it will be a major concern in this course. Accordingly, it may be necessary for students who have writing skills need special assistance to complete several sessions with the Writing Center to fulfill the course requirements.

Accommodations: If you have a disability that may require assistance or accommodation, or you have questions related to any accommodation for testing, or the need for note takers, readers, et cetera, please speak with me when possible. You may also contact the Office of Disabled Student Services at 898-2783 with any questions about such services.  I will from time to time, at the request of students, announce university related events and activities.  If you have any requests of this kind, please let me know and I will be happy to announce them.

Caveats: (1) You are responsible for keeping up with assignments and modifications of this syllabus. (2) I expect you to attend class regularly. Nonetheless, you should associate with a classmate in case of absence so you can obtain notes and information. I will not review class sessions with students that were absent. (3) You must realize and constantly bear in mind that your presence and participation represent part of the formal grading criteria and I will take much of the examinations from class lectures and discussion which contain material that cannot be found elsewhere. You might note that in this class there is a direct correlation between the level of grades and attendance. You may expect to be called upon to answer questions and make suggestions regarding the assigned material. (4) You must submit assigned work when due and only to me personally. I will not accept submissions by electronic mail or "under the door." (5) Work submitted late will be accepted with a late penalty of five (5) points at the beginning of each day. (6) If you miss an examination with prior approval, I will permit you to take a make-up examination on the last day of the term before or after class. (7) If you need to contact me, you must contact me first in person at my office, and unable to meet me personally, you must attempt to reach me by telephone, and only then by e-mail or facsimile. Do not assume that I will receive or have received a telephonic or electronic message unless I respond.

Lottery Scholarship:  Do you have a lottery scholarship? To retain Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship eligibility, you must earn a cumulative TELS GPA of 2.75 after 24 and 48 attempted hours and a cumulative TELS GPA of 3.0 thereafter. You may qualify with a 2.75 cumulative GPA after 72 attempted hours (and subsequent semesters), if you are enrolled full-time and maintain a semester GPA of at least 3.0. A grade of C, D, F, or I in this class may negatively impact TELS eligibility. Dropping a class after 14 days may also impact eligibility; if you withdraw from this class and it results in an enrollment status of less than full time, you may lose eligibility for your lottery scholarship. Lottery recipients are eligible to receive the scholarship for a maximum of five years from the date of initial enrollment, or until a bachelor degree is earned; students who first received the lottery scholarship in Fall 2009 or later will additionally be limited to 120 TELS attempted hours. For additional Lottery rules, please refer to your Lottery Statement of Understanding form, review lottery requirements on the web at or contact the Financial Aid Office at 898-2830.


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Note on Critique: When you critique you become a critic, one that makes a judgment about something. The critique or judgment is not necessarily negative. For example, a Broadway critic may just as well admire a stage performance as dislike it. In either case, however, the critique must support the critic’s thesis with relevant and probative evidence taken from the play itself. You might approach your assignment in the following way:
1) Begin with a tentative thesis about the subject that has a descriptive and an evaluative (or critical) component
2) Gather information about the subject
3) Analyze the information
4) Describe the subject in a simple, straight-forward manner
5) Evaluate the subject and the information that you have about it
6) Finalize the thesis
7) Organize your presentation
a) Thesis
b) Description
c) Critique
8) Enjoy writing


Arbitration Portion of the Course:

            American Arbitration Association Rules: Go to or more specifically  for "Non-Binding Arbitration Rules for Consumer Disputes and Business Disputes."

Arbitration Cases:

1953    Wilko v. Swan

1984    Southland Corporation v. Keating

1985    Mitsubishi Motors v. Soler Chrysler-Plymouth

1991    Gilmer v. Interstate/Johnson Lane Corp.

1972    Sobel v. Hertz Warner & Co.

2003    EEOC v. Waffle House, 534 U.S. 279 (2002)

1997    Cole v. Burns International Security Services, 105 F.3d 1465 (D.C. Cir. 1997) Go to LexisNexis or WestLaw to retrieve this case.

2000    Green Tree Financial Corp. v. Randolf, 531 U.S. 79 (2000)

1989    Lawrence v. Walzer, 207 Cal. App. 3d 1501 (1989) Go to LexisNexis or WestLaw to retrieve this case.

2000    Johnson v. West Suburban Bank, 225 F. 3d 366 (3rd Cir. 2000,  cert. denied 531 U.S. 1145 (2001).  Go to LexisNexis or WestLaw to retrieve this case.

2009    AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion,  131 S.Ct. 1740 (April 2011)

1998  The Circuit City Cases

1996 Doctor's Associates v. Casarotto, 514 U.S. 681 (1996) 

Mid-term:  Write an essay that describes and evaluates the arbitration process. You may contrast arbitration to the litigation process (and, since we have touched on mediation to some extent, you may, if you chose, include some aspects of that process as well to make comparisons.)  Your thesis needs to be able to incorporate as many (most!) of the arbitration cases listed above.  You should consider the all of the opinions as witnesses at trial that will be called on to furnish testimony to support your thesis/theory of the essay/case. So, be certain to use actual quotes from the opinions as if they were speaking from the witness stand. In other words, these cases, just like a witness in a trial, have something to say. (Actually, all texts have some to "say.") You can even ask the text / opinion questions, such as, "What do you have to say about arbitration?" Then, once you have determined what they have to say, you must develop a thesis that includes or incorporates what they have to say. With multiple witnesses, the trick is to integrate all of them into a single thesis. Then, use their statements (quotes) to support the thesis. This essay is due October 21, 2010.  Do not forget to write a critical essay; one that critiques, not something that simply describes the cases.  (Take a look above at the note on "critique.")  Your essay will be judged on how many cases you are able to work into your thesis and argument; the amount of quotations you use from the texts to support your argument; and the extent to which it is critique, rather than mere description.

Mediation Portion of the Course:

            Carrie Menkel-Meadow: “Whose Dispute Is It Anyway?: A Philosophical and Democratic Defense of  Settlement.”

          Leonard L. Riskin: "Understanding Mediator Orientations, Strategies, And Techniques: A Grid For The Perplexed."

          Judith Resnik: “Many Doors? Closing Doors? Alternative Dispute Resolution And Adjudication.”

            Gerald R. Williams, “Legal Negotiation and Settlement.”

            Charles Barton: “Theories of Restorative Justice.”

            The ADR Spectrum: U.S. Office of Personnel Management

            Riskin's "Approaches to Mediation."

            Conflict Resolution Preferences:  Concern for for Self and/or Others

            A Standard Mediator's Opening Remarks


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