New Mediation Clinic Provides Vital Service to Students, Community

The Economic Justice Institute of the UW Law School's Remington Center recently added a new program to its ranks. The Mediation Clinic's goal is to train law students to provide a vital service to the community: helping members resolve pressing personal and legal conflicts.

"Mediation" is a process in which an impartial third party facilitates the resolution of a dispute by promoting voluntary agreement by the parties to the dispute. A mediator facilitates communication, promotes understanding, focuses the parties on their interests and seeks creative problem-solving to enable the parties to reach their own agreement. Of the many cases referred to the Mediation Clinic, a majority result in agreement between the parties.

Such a collaborative approach to legal problem-solving can benefit both students and the community members they work with. Students receive extensive training in skills that can translate into later legal practice; community members benefit from the way in which all parties work toward an agreeable end. Because it is the only program of its kind in the Madison area, the mediation clinic also fills an important void.

"Through mediation, the clinic brings together law students and members of the community," says Donna Erez-Navot, the clinic's new Clinical Professor. "And hopefully everyone benefits."

The skills-based clinic began in early September when the eight Mediation Clinic students completed a Basic Mediation Skills Training co-taught by Erez-Navot and Ralph Cagle, UW Law Emeritus Professor. In late September, the students began their mediation apprenticeships at Dane County Small Claims Court, where they either observe or co-mediate cases, under faculty supervision.

The Mediation Clinic has now begun to reach out to other organizations on and off campus in order to expand mediation services to the community. Currently it is accepting cases from the STEM (Student Tenant Education and Mediation Program), UW Division of Housing, Division of Student Life, and other UW campus organizations. It also hopes to form partnerships with local organizations that can help continue the clinic's work.

"We look forward to finding community organizations to partner with so that we can continue to offer these important mediation services," says Erez-Navot.

To learn more about the Mediation Clinic, contact Donna Erez-Navot at or (608) 262-4870.

Submitted by UW Law News on November 11, 2011

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