Center for Conflict Resolution
Loyola’s Center for Conflict Resolution (CCR) provides mediation and facilitation to people seeking to solve a dispute with the help of a neutral mediator. To date the clinic has served almost 40,000 clients since its doors opened in 1993. Students handle a variety of cases which expose them to many areas of law including landlord-tenant disputes, debt collections, civil harassment, employment, property and family law. But above all else, the communication skills acquired through conflict resolution will become a vital asset in their careers as attorneys.
Students in the clinic learn valuable skills that can cross over into any professional environment. Assistant Director and alumna Mary Britt explains, “The center teaches students to be neutrals, which allows them to dispassionately see all sides of the conflict. The neutrality experience students gain at the center will serve them well in objectively analyzing both sides of a case, as well as gauging their opponents’ goals and developing negotiation strategies to further their own client’s interests.” Case management is also crucial to the job as each student is responsible for 10-20 cases at once. Issues must be addressed in a timely fashion and durable agreements must be met.
Here is one such success story in which two conflicting parties came to an agreement with the help of a student mediator in the clinic. Parents who had been separated for years were at odds over where their daughter should attend high school. After many arguments between the parents, a student in the clinic convinced them to try mediation. What was at first one four hour session turned into two sessions that lasted a total of 12 hours. Through active listening and a rational viewpoint, the student was able to look at the conflict from every angle and reach an agreement that satisfied everyone. Their daughter would attend one school for a “probationary year,” and once a month the parents would discuss her progress before coming to final conclusion at the end of the school year.
The CCR has made great advancements to accommodate the growing number of clients and student externs. The center recently moved into the new Downtown Public Interest Law Center, located in the heart of Los Angeles. It is one of three Loyola Law School clinics housed at the Law School’s 800 S. Figueroa location and Loyola student externs handle most of the casework that comes their way. In an effort to serve every person who seeks aid, the CCR offers all services in Spanish and can call upon resources in several other languages as well.
The clinic prides itself for reaching out to those who are underrepresented in the justice system like the elderly, disabled and veterans. Their dedication has not gone unnoticed; the CCR was awarded the “Outstanding Mediation Case Award” from Los Angeles County for its resolution of a consumer-debt dispute involving $55,000 in medical bills. It’s the appreciation and exclamations of joy that they receive on a daily basis from grateful clients that truly makes it all worthwhile.