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Why ADR must be a mandatory subject in the law degree


James Duffy and Rachael Field

James is a lecturer in the QUT Faculty of Law. He coordinates first year and final year law subjects, including Introduction to Law and Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Rachael joined the Law School in 2006. Her key teaching interests are in the first year experience and dispute resolution. Rachael has published widely in her areas of research interest which include dispute resolution, family law, legal education and women and the law. She is also president of the Women’s Legal Service, Brisbane.

The Australian legal profession, as well as the content and pedagogy of legal education across Australia, are steeped in tradition and conservatism. Indeed, the legal profession and our institutions of legal education are in a relationship of mutual influence which leaves the way we teach law resistant to change. There has traditionally been pushback against the notion that dispute resolution should have a place amongst black letter law subjects in the legal curriculum. This paper argues that this position cannot be maintained in the modern legal climate. We challenge legal education orthodoxy and promote NADRAC’s position that alternative dispute resolution should be a compulsory, stand alone subject in the law degree. We put forward ten simple arguments as to why every law student should be exposed to a semester long course of DR instruction.

Our session will be interactive and discursive with at least 20 minutes devoted to participant small group/table discussions about (1) the importance of dispute resolution instruction for law students and (2) strategies for achieving reform of the legal curriculum to include dispute resolution as a mandatory subject.

Get to know James and Rachael

James researches into ADR, Non-Adversarial Justice and the Law/Psychology nexus.

Rachael completed her PhD in the Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney under the supervision of Professor Hilary Astor. Her thesis explored the notion of neutrality in mediation and offers an alternative paradigm based on professional mediator ethics.