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Dispute Resolution Program

The NLDR Survey

Integrating Non-Litigation Dispute Resolution into the JD Curriculum: A Survey of U.S. ABA-Accredited Law Schools

VLS students and faculty talkingMore than 35 years ago, a small number of U.S. law schools began offering courses in non-litigation dispute resolution (NLDR) such as arbitration, mediation and negotiation. Today, most, if not all, law schools offer at least one NLDR course and there are approximately 40 law school centers dedicated to the subject. Many professors integrate the core concepts of negotiation, mediation, and arbitration into their doctrinal courses. Some law schools have integrated NLDR content into the required JD curriculum.

While much has been written explaining these changes and suggesting improvements, there has been little, if any, research on how the 200 ABA-accredited law schools teach non-litigation dispute resolution. How many schools require a dispute resolution course? How many schools integrate dispute resolution into the required JD curriculum? What range of processes is taught?

Integrating NLDR into the JD Curriculum: A Survey

To learn which law schools have integrated NLDR into the core JD curriculum, and understand how they have done it, Sean Nolon, director of the VLS Dispute Resolution Program, developed an online survey of U.S. ABA-accredited law schools. Over the last year, more than 130 law schools have participated in the study. Members of the ABA Legal Education and Practical Problem Solving Task Force Committee (LEAPS) created a subcommittee to conduct follow-up interviews of lead faculty at schools that integrate NLDR-content into required courses.

The survey and follow-up interviews to date indicate that fewer than 20 percent of responding schools include NLDR in the required curriculum. Follow-up interviews detail the challenges and strategies of successfully integrating NDLR content into the core JD curriculum.

The survey is ongoing. Follow the links (below and right) to review the survey summary, and read summaries of the follow-up interviews.