Student Lessons on Distance Mediation

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Picture of person hanging up a telephone“Could we try and mediate over the phone?” I was a bit surprised by the response from the attorney when I called to let him know that the Small Claims Mediation Clinic’s courthouse mediation options had been curtailed by the Coronavirus. The Clinic, which was started by former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice and retired MULS Professor Janine Geske, has been in operation since 1998. A typical Clinic day revolves around same day referrals for mediation cases from Court Commissioners in Room 400 of the Milwaukee County Courthouse. Cases are mediated then and there. In addition to the typical same-day referrals, this semester the Clinic received a number of referrals from judges dealing with civil cases. This particular case, a dispute between relatives, seemed tailor-made for mediation. I hesitated for just a second before saying yes, we would try mediating the case by phone. Continue reading “Student Lessons on Distance Mediation”

Client Skills Board Students Excel in Competitions

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School, Mediation, Negotiation, PublicLeave a comment» on Client Skills Board Students Excel in Competitions


It was a busy weekend for the Marquette University Law School Clients Skills Board, the organization focused on building client-focused practice skills.

Cassie Van Gompel and Zach Geren finished 3rd, and Megan Marqusee and David Karp finished 4th, at the ABA Regional Representation in Mediation Competition at Quinnipiac School of Law on Saturday, February 27th. Cassie and Zach had initially tied for 2nd place, missing the semi-final round in the tiebreaker by less than 4 points.

Closer to home, 1st-year students Cody Hallowell, Keegan Girodo, Kelsey Schanke, and Ben Lucarelli beat out ten other 1L and 2L teams to win the Marquette University Law School Intramural Negotiation Competition, also on Saturday, February 27th. Local attorneys, many of them MULS alums, came to Eckstein Hall to judge the competition, providing great feedback to all the teams working to enhance their negotiation abilities.  Cody, Keegan, Kelsey, and Ben will represent Marquette in the ABA Regional Negotiation Competition next fall.

Commerce Claws

Posted on Categories Constitutional Interpretation, Constitutional Law, Public1 Comment on Commerce Claws

There are more than 50 polydactl (6 toed) cats at the Hemingway Museum in Key West Florida. The cats are descended from six-toed felines raised by Hemingway at his house in Key West, which is now a museum. The cats roam the grounds and the house at will. Several years ago, a visitor became concerned about the cats’ welfare, and reported the issue to the US Department of Agriculture. Long story short, the USDA decided the cats fell under the Animal Welfare Act with its accompanying regulations and requirements. The museum filed suit stating that the USDA did not have authority over the cats, the judge disagreed, and the Museum appealed.

Last week a three-judge appeals court panel (11th Circuit) decided the case using a broad interpretation of the Animal Welfare Act. The court also evaluated whether the cats “substantially affect” interstate commerce under the Commerce Clause. One part of the analysis determined that the Hemingway Museum purposefully uses the cats for marketing campaigns to attract visitors from outside of Florida, and as such, their exhibition has a commercial purpose and affects interstate commerce. You can see more about the case here and here.

Confirmation Bias

Posted on Categories Negotiation, Political Processes & Rhetoric, PublicLeave a comment» on Confirmation Bias

Teaching dispute resolution typically includes making students aware of the many different biases that influence our views of conflicts and our decision making. I’ve been thinking quite a bit about confirmation bias during this election. According to the Oxford Dictionary, confirmation bias is “the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories.” A prime example of this bias in operation during the election cycle is the decision about who won the second Presidential Debate. Republicans tended to state that Romney won, while Democrats typically called the debate in Obama’s favor.

There’s an interesting blog post about this phenomenon and satire on Social Psychology Eye, an associated site for Wiley-Blackwell’s review journal on Social and Personality Psychology. Even though the post is from April 2011, it has some good points to keep in mind in the next few weeks while we’re barraged by negative ads, phone calls, internet ads, etc. One great piece of advice is at the end of the post:

“Here is one tip for overcoming confirmation bias within yourself: When most people do ‘reality testing’ they seek information that confirms their existing views are correct. Instead, try to do the opposite. Try to find evidence that argues against your existing views. It may be uncomfortable, but it can be more likely to lead to information that is accurate rather than just comforting.”

Lawyering on the Right Side of the Brain

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There has been quite a bit of news lately on neuroscience and the law. The Law and Neuroscience Blog specifically focuses on the topic, discussing everything from lying to U.S. Supreme Court decisions which cite neuroscience research. This trend enhances the right brain vs. left brain discussions that have been around for decades. While modern technology is challenging some of those assumptions, recent studies have taken the right brain vs. left brain discussion into politics. Right brain functions are typically identified as more creative, while the left side of the brain is often identified with analytical skills, logic, and other functions one might typically associate with skilled lawyers.

This blog post from the ABA showcases a lawyer who tapped into both sides of his brain and filed a cartoon amicus brief opposing a price-fixing settlement between the DOJ and three e-book publishers. While in the end the federal judge approved the settlement, she quoted Emily Dickinson in the ruling.

Curious about your own right brain/left brain tendencies? There are many tests on the web; this test from the Art Institute of Vancouver provides a detailed analysis focused on creativity. Want to tap into your creative side? Try Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards.