Bond University


[Extract] In Part One of this article, we posed the question ‘Why teach ADR to Law Students?’ The question was generated by a review of the literature on the teaching of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in a number of Western countries, particularly the United States and Australia. The literature revealed that many law schools in these countries have demonstrated a commitment to teaching ADR theory and practice to their students in keeping with the upsurge in clinical education and the belief that ‘black letter’ law units expose students to a narrow perspective of legal practice. The commonly held view is that legal education should teach law students ‘what lawyers need to be able to do’ not just ‘what lawyers need to know’.[...] Part One of this article raised important questions for both the academy and the profession. It addressed the question ‘Why teach ADR in law school?’ In other words, to what extent is it giving students who are bombarded with the adversarial, positional direction of the traditional ‘black letter’ subjects’ insights into the collaborative, problem-solving approach, essential for 21st century lawyering? It also noted that attitudinal change, if any, that may ensue as a result of teaching ADR subjects to law students, remains an important question for research in both the fields of legal education and legal professional practice. Part Two of the article examines this latter topic. In the presentation of this part of our work, we seek to suggest some answers to these questions by reporting on an empirical pilot study of teaching ADR as a mandatory unit to first-year law students at La Trobe University in 2005.5 This article provides a brief profile of the students undertaking the unit along a variety of measures and then focuses on a detailed exploration of their views towards ways in which the legal profession manages disputes.