I’m participating today in the Global Pound Conference (“GPC”) Series in Sydney. Taking its inspiration from the original Pound Conference, the purpose of this worldwide Series of conversations is to explore what can be done to improve access to justice and the quality of justice around the world in civil and commercial conflicts. The title of the GPC Series is: Shaping the Future of Dispute Resolution and Improving Access to Justice.
As you might expect, there is a lot of agreement in the room about the importance of DR and the role of DR practitioners in achieving access to justice through DR practice in commercial and civil matters. This is important because many people here are lawyers. It is encouraging to hear partners of top tier law firms affirming the place of DR approaches (and particularly non-litigation DR approaches) in legal practice. It is sobering but important to hear the perspective of these successful practitioners that law school is not equipping young graduates with the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes that practising law in 2017 requires. That is, they’re saying that young law graduates don’t have the necessary knowledge about DR theory and practice, they don’t have the necessary DR communication and relational skills, and they don’t have the necessary self-management and reflection skills.
This brings me back to my soapbox point about the need to teach DR as a core compulsory subject in the law curriculum. If lawyers are to be able to adequately and ethically advise and guide their clients in order to manage and resolve their disputes effectively they certainly do need to be able to work with the substantive law, but they also need to be able to:
- Diagnose a relevant dispute resolution process that will enable the dispute to be resolved in a way that addresses the best interests of the client.
- Communicate effective, practical DR advice and generate creative solutions.
- Work in practice groups.
- Recognise, reflect upon, and respond to, ethical issues arising out of the legal dispute and its resolution.
- Reflect on and assess their own professional capabilities and performance.
DR subjects are very well-placed to equip students with this suite of knowledge, skills and attitudes.
The Global Pound Conference series is an important innovation that will generate important data relevant to convincing the Law Admissions Consultative Committee about the appropriate place of DR in the Priestley 11 subjects required for admission to legal practice in Australia.
You can see here the core questions that are part of the GPC Series research element.
You can also explore the website to find out more about the Series: http://globalpoundconference.org/
I want to commend the organisers of the Sydney series – the organising committee, and the Resolution Institute (https://www.resolution.institute/), its CEO Fiona Hollier and her amazing team.
Congratulations also go to one of our ADR Research Network members – Emma-May Litchfield – who is leading the research component of the GPC. This is important work that will provide the DR community with a critical evidence base.