MSU College of Law

Conflict Resolution Clinic

We provide community members in small claims courts with an opportunity to resolve their disputes outside the courtroom. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) often leads to more satisfying resolutions for clients. This work helps students hone the problem-solving skills they’ll need to succeed in all legal practice areas.

Our students first learn conflict resolution theory and skills by becoming licensed mediators. Students then practice mediation in various courts and agencies in the area. We also conduct advanced trainings for community mediation centers across Michigan and do workshops with jail inmates trained as peer mediators at prisons in Muskegon. We also often compete in negotiation and mediation tournaments at other law schools and occasionally other special projects.

Regardless of what you do with your legal education, this clinic will help you because it teaches you how to communicate.

Juliet Iacona, ’16

Once mediation training is complete, our students travel to district courts throughout mid-Michigan to mediate small claims cases. Rather than working with a few clients for the whole semester, Conflict Resolution Clinic students meet different parties each week to help them resolve their dispute that same day. It’s a constantly-changing work environment. Students undergo intensive training and then work towards independence in their mediation work.

Conflict Resolution Clinic students can:

  • Practice problem solving skills
  • Mediate real cases
  • Coach and train new mediators
  • Deepen their understanding of mediation theory and practice
  • Develop negotiation skills.

We provide mediation services to individuals with small claims prior to a hearing before the judge or magistrate. We focus on fostering effective communication and assisting each side with determining what they want from the conflict. We focus on the key concepts of self-determination, impartiality, informality, and confidentiality to ensure lasting solutions. This process often leads to cheaper, faster, and more satisfying resolutions for complex problems.

The clinic was an exciting opportunity because you never quite knew what to expect. One mediation started with old friends calling each other names and it was very tense. But as each party felt heard through the mediation process, the energy in the room completely shifted and they left with a resolution and a better friendship. It was very rewarding to help facilitate communication and see the process work.

Morgan Schut, ’16