Dispute resolution program honored by federal appeals court

From left: E. Randy Smith, Aileen Carlos, Catharine Roner-Reiter, Edward Leavy, Emily Johnson, Jen Reynolds, Denise Asper.

The Alternative Dispute Resolution program in the UO School of Law recently was honored with the ADR Education Award from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The award, established by the appeals court in 2004, recognizes law schools within the 9th Circuit for demonstrated commitment to advancing education in the field of alternative dispute resolution.  

Alternative dispute resolution is the study of different processes for resolving issues and reaching agreements. The major resolution processes are mediation, negotiation and arbitration. 

At the award event, U.S. Circuit Judge Randy Smith said the award committee chose the UO because of the law school’s longstanding commitment to alternative dispute resolution and it’s initiatives around social justice.

“UO Law has been in the top 10 ADR programs in the nation since 2008, and that meant a great deal to the committee,” Smith said. “It shows that Oregon is in it for the long haul.”

In one example of the center’s social justice programs, it focused last year’s programming on the intersection of implicit bias and alternative practice. Smith made a special point of the relevance and importance of the work, noting that implicit bias is one of the most pressing concerns the judiciary faces today.

Jen Reynolds, a law professor and faculty director of the program, accepted the award on behalf of the law school.

“It’s been my privilege to work with so many faculty and students who are willing to think broadly and creatively about how we can accomplish positive social change,” she said.

After the ceremony, Senior U.S. Circuit Judge Edward Leavy said he has conducted hundreds of mediations during his time on the bench. Smith and U.S. Magistrate Judge Jay Acosta agreed that mediation has become part of the judicial skill set.

When parties can participate actively in determining the resolution of their dispute, “the sense of relief is palpable,” Acosta said.

Those attending the event included Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Bounds; 9th Circuit Prison Litigation Project Director Denise Asper; UO Law Portland Program Director Emily Johnson; Alternative Disputer Resolution Center Program Manager Aileen Carlos; and law student Catharine Roner-Reiter.

Visit the Alternative Dispute Resolution Center website for more information.