Would you like to do a PhD or Masters by Research about lawyers in dispute resolution?

Broad area of inquiry: What drives lawyer behaviour in dispute settlement?

Dr Olivia Rundle would love to work with some new research higher degree candidates, and applications are open this month to apply to enrol in a scholarship supported PhD or Masters by Research at the Faculty of Law, University of Tasmania.

It is well recognised that the lack of clarity about what lawyers ought to be doing in consensus based processes (as opposed to the traditional adversary system of judicial determination) can contribute to widely variable ideas about the boundaries of ethical behaviour in negotiation, mediation and other dispute resolution processes. Factors that influence lawyers’ behaviour are likely to include: lawyers’ professional identity, conceptualisation of their professional responsibilities, guidelines, client demands, time pressures, billing pressures, skills, training, and personality. Important contributions to this area of inquiry include the following (by no means an exhaustive list):

There is a need for more empirical research about the actual drivers behind lawyer behaviour in the settlement of clients’ disputes. Understanding the practitioner’s perspective would make an important contribution to the field of non-judicial dispute resolution. There is also a need for more empirical work that investigates the lawyers’ perspective of reforms that have been made in the civil justice system. Just as lawyers’ behaviour in dispute resolution is at times cause of complaint, lawyers’ behaviour in litigation is also subject to some criticism. Dr Rundle is curious about why lawyers do things the way they do.

Olivia has a strong background in researching about lawyers in dispute resolution. Her own PhD investigated the practices and perspectives of lawyers engaging in court-connected mediation at the Supreme Court of Tasmania. Since her PhD, Olivia has written extensively about the role that lawyers play in mediation, and explored in a hypothetical sense the drivers that could sit behind lawyer behaviour in dispute resolution processes. See Olivia’s profile regarding her work in the dispute resolution area on the ADR Research Network blog. Some of her key publications to date are as follows:

If you would like to explore a research question within this broad area of inquiry with Olivia, then please consider submitting an application. The application process for research higher degrees is explained on the UTAS Gradute Research Website. Olivia can be contacted at Olivia.Rundle@utas.edu.au with topic related queries. See PhD/Masters Scholarships for Hot Topics on the UTAS Faculty of Law Scholarships Page for details of the competitive scholarship process – this topic is one of three “Hot Topics” and we have a limited number of scholarships to allocate. The University will award the scholarships to the most highly ranked applicants. Olivia will not be involved in the ranking or decision making about scholarships. Applications close 31 March 2016.

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About Dr Olivia Rundle

Dr Rundle is a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Law, University of Tasmania. She has worked as a nationally accredited mediator and a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. Dr Rundle is especially interested in the role of lawyers in dispute resolution processes and the policy environment that positively encourages lawyers to engage with dispute resolution. She teaches and researches in broad areas of Dispute Resolution, Civil Procedure and Family Law.

2 thoughts on “Would you like to do a PhD or Masters by Research about lawyers in dispute resolution?

  1. A lawyer is often torn apart by professionalism, ethics and a will to gain the best bargain in dispute settlements. One has to learn how to control himself in order to find the best balance.

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    • Thanks Jack. I agree that a complex web of obligations, goals, habits, culture and personality affect lawyers’ behaviour in DR and litigation. Legal ethics and professional obligations are of high importance go practitioners, and there is a need for deeper exploration of this by DR and ethics scholars.

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