MSU College of Law News

Mary A. Bedikian to Head New Alternative Dispute Resolution Program at Michigan State University-DCL College of Law

For Release April 8, 2003

Contact: Barb Anselmo, 517/432-6848

East Lansing, Michigan. Michigan State University-DCL College of Law (MSU-DCL) has named Mary A. Bedikian of Farmington Hills, Michigan, as Professor of Law in Residence. Professor Bedikian will head the Law College's new Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program and will have primary responsibility for creating and teaching the curriculum pieces for a full-fledged ADR program. She also will continue to research and write on topics of interest to the ADR community. She comes to MSU-DCL from the American Arbitration Association (AAA) - Detroit Regional Office, where she served for 28 years, most recently as District Vice President.

Professor Bedikian's extensive experience in ADR includes training judges, advocates and neutrals in the responsible use of mediation and arbitration. She served as Mediator in the 46th District Court and the Michigan Court of Appeals Settlement Program. Professor Bedikian is the former chair of the State Bar Section on Alternative Methods of Dispute Resolution, and she was a primary force in establishing the Section in 1993. In recognition of her work, she received the 1999 Distinguished Service Award in Recognition of Significant Contributions to the Field of Dispute Resolution (Alternative Dispute Resolution section) from the State Bar of Michigan.

Professor Bedikian also has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at both the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and the Wayne State University Law School, where she created a model course for ADR for Michigan law schools. She has published frequently, and one of her articles received First Place recognition in the 1988 Annual National Labor Law Writing Competition. An expert in ADR, Professor Bedikian has made numerous presentations throughout the country to legal and community agencies and organizations.

She received a J.D. degree from the Detroit College of Law, and a B.A. and M.A. from Wayne State University in Detroit.

The increasing use of private and court-annexed ADR was one of the motivating forces for establishing the ADR Program at MSU-DCL. Judicial opinion is overwhelmingly supportive of ADR. The Ethics Opinions of the State Bar of Michigan requires counsel to inform clients of ADR alternatives, and, by local rule, circuit courts are required to direct parties into mediation.

Because many ADR providers concentrate solely on logistics of mediation, there has been a need for a broad-scale approach to incorporating both the academic and practical development of ADR. This approach focuses on problem solving in the context of traditional legal education, and better prepares students to participate in ADR.

For that reason, the ADR Program will focus its initiatives in three principal areas. The first is developing a core curriculum in ADR for MSU-DCL students. These courses will include explorations of the entire range of ADR mechanisms, including negotiations, mediation, labor, commercial and international arbitration.

In addition to its academic focus, the Program will also provide mediation, facilitation, negotiation and conflict management training for attorneys, judges, in-house corporate groups, state agencies, colleges and universities, and non-profit organizations. These educational services will be comprised of short-term, highly focused courses in areas such as ADR ethics, public policy and ADR, settlement advocacy, cross-cultural negotiations, psychology of conflict, and the art of mediating complex cases. Educational services ultimately will expand to include training for advocates.

The ADR Program also will offer professional consulting services. These services include designing conflict resolution and communications systems to meet specific client interests and needs. Potential clients include corporations, educational groups and government agencies.

"ADR is a powerful driver in today's legal marketplace," said Professor Bedikian. "More than ever before, disputing parties are turning to conflict resolution processes that are fast, economical, fair and flexible. Given this climate, it is important to acclimate law students early to ADR's theoretical underpinnings, and to help them develop the skills necessary to practice effectively in ADR."

Michigan State University-DCL College of Law, formerly known as Detroit College of Law, was founded in 1891 and was the first law school in Detroit. To extend its commitment to educational excellence, the Detroit College of Law affiliated with Michigan State University in 1995 and moved to MSU's East Lansing campus in 1997.

The move to MSU enabled the Law College to build a $28 million facility and provide law students the benefits of a Big Ten university while maintaining its private law school status. Today, MSU-DCL remains the nation's oldest continuously operating independent law school.