Rebecca Price

Symposium Subtitle

ADR as Public Policy: Domestic and International Perspectives


The practice of mediation has gone through enormous change in the last twenty-five years. No longer simply an "alternative," mediation has in some settings become commonplace. At the same time, many courts across the country struggle to maintain staffing and support for programs that offer alternatives for dispute resolution. While private mediation firms have seen an increase in cases, some academics and practitioners question whether mediation has been co-opted by a litigation model such that it no longer serves as a meaningful alternative.

The Mediation Program at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, which has been in existence since it was piloted in the early 1990s, has recently undergone substantial change. This article will discuss the history of the program and analyze the initial choices that were made about program scope, staffing, and design. It will then track major developments in the program beginning in 2011 and highlight some of the issues that impact the program’s future direction. Through this in-depth exploration of one court’s mediation program, this article will demonstrate how and why mediation is still a dynamic conflict resolution model and why there is much more that can and should be done.



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