Three female and one male student in a classroom conversing.
Mediation Clinic

The Mediation Clinic was founded in 1994 by Professor James Stark, formerly director of Civil Clinical Programs and associate dean for academic affairs at the Law School. The three primary goals of this clinic are:

  1. Placing students in the role of neutrals rather than partisans, to help foster an integrative, problem-solving orientation to the practice of law.
  2. Improving students' ability to represent clients effectively by helping them learn, in the context of mediation, generic listening, questioning, persuasion, negotiation and conflict resolution skills that are fundamental to the practice of law.
  3. Helping students evaluate the benefits and limitations of mediation and other dispute resolution processes so that they can responsibly counsel clients about their choices.
Students

This program is the law school's only in-house clinic that does not focus directly on client representation or litigation skills. Along with courses offered in Negotiation, Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution, the Mediation Clinic is part of a curriculum designed to educate students about less adversarial approaches to disputing. There are no pre-requisites.

Serving as a neutral provides a unique perspective on how litigants experience conflict and the courts-- a perspective that is often hard to appreciate while representing them. Serving as a mediator also provides a fascinating glimpse at lawyers' bargaining behaviors and both effective and ineffective styles of negotiation.

If you are interested in this program, please contact Prof. James Stark by email at james.stark@law.uconn.edu to arrange a meeting, or feel free to call (860) 570-5278.

Faculty

James Stark has been a clinical law teacher since 1974, first at the Washington College of Law, American University and since 1979 at the University of Connecticut School of Law.  A nationally recognized expert in mediation and alternative dispute resolution, he is the co-author, with Douglas Frenkel, of The Practice of Mediation: A Video-Integrated Text (Aspen Law and Business), a leading law school mediation skills text, now in its second edition.  He has published widely, including Preliminary Reflections on the Establishment of a Mediation Clinic, 2 Clinical L. Rev. 457 (1996), selected for inclusion in Hurder, et. al, Clinical Anthology: Readings for Live-Client Clinics (1997), and Changing Minds: The Work of Mediators and Empirical Studies of Persuasion, 28 Ohio St. J. on Disp. Resol. 241 (2013).  He has lectured on mediation topics throughout the United States, as well as in Germany and Italy. 

In the clinic, students participate in an intensive 30-hour, five week training program before they begin to mediate cases. Casework placements and subject matters have varied from year to year, and have not been finalized for the upcoming semester, but most recently have included:

  • Mediation of small claims cases in Hartford Housing Court.
  • Mediation of employment discrimination cases filed at the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities;
  • Mediation of child custody disputes at Connecticut Family Courts around the state;
  • Mediation of eviction cases in Hartford, New Britain and New Haven courts.

Once casework begins, the classroom seminar focuses on further refinement of mediation skills; the ethics of mediating, the role of representative counsel in mediation; and discussion of strategic, communication and role issues arising in students’ actual cases.