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Law Students Dedicated to Resolving Disputes

Matthew Gordon (3L)

 

Resolve is the U of A law school’s dispute resolution club. It is virtually brand new. It meets every second Thursday to provide a forum in which law students of all years can discuss negotiation, alternative dispute resolution (ADR), and related issues.

 

Almost every session has students playing activities and games of various types that reflect the diversity of legal practice. Our members’ areas of interest include, but are not limited to: labour law, family law, civil litigation, criminal law, and Aboriginal law. Skills we practise range from negotiation in the shadow of a legal area like labour or personal injury, to more general dispute resolution, to personal skills like emotional intelligence that surface in legal practice all the time. Resolve incorporates key insights from economics and psychology in order to offer related perspectives to the practice of law.

 

A recent game we played was The Western Basketball Division, an original game written in-house by our President, Matthew Gordon. It featured a star pro basketball player looking for a new contract in free agency, his agent, and two rival general managers looking to add him to their team. Much of the game was based on the current National Basketball Association collective bargaining agreement, showing the direct connection between the skills Resolve members practise and the realities of legal decision-making in the business world.

 

Resolve’s foundation lies in not just the nexus between law and business, but also in the people who make negotiation work. Cultural issues in dispute resolution are a topic of rising interest, which we in Resolve recognize very well. Commemorating this, Resolve hosted a chapter of the Government of Alberta Dispute Resolution Network’s Conflict Resolution Day, focusing on the way cultural differences can either escalate or diminish conflict. At the following meeting, we discussed conflict styles, which included a role play in which members could explore their dispute resolution identities by applying them to real-life issues.

 

Crucial to Resolve is the attitude that not every conflict is meant for trial – or even protracted bitterness between the parties. At Resolve, we take the position that combining hard and soft skills saves clients’ time and money while allowing lawyers to deliver the highest quality professional services. Although our activities more often resemble litigation than solicitor’s work, it is common for a game’s objective to be the finalizing of a commercial contract.

 

At every session, members are served a healthy soup and salad lunch. Members frequently win prizes from our sponsors for participating in collaborative games or placing in competitive ones. Resolve is proud of its tight-knit, growing membership that embraces Edmonton’s dispute resolution community. Resolve’s collegial atmosphere is evident in members’ openness in sharing experiences and in the social connection between the executive and general membership.