Believing that the widespread and ever-growing use of litigation has fostered a breakdown of civility in our business and personal lives, Jerry Hirsch began investing in mediation as an alternate way of resolving disputes long before formation of The Lodestar Foundation. We have continued and expanded that investment, which started with support of a mediation clinic at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University (ASU). The clinic, which has grown into the Lodestar Dispute Resolution Center, encompasses training both lawyers and non-lawyers in various forms of dispute resolution, performing scholarly research in the field, and providing mediation services in various forums.
Some of the innovative projects initiated by the program include developing a handbook for use by dormitory advisors to resolve disputes among dorm students, instructing junior high school students on alternative dispute resolution techniques, and having dispute resolution students serve as mediators in actual small claims complaints filed in the City of Tempe Justice Court, where an average of more than 60 percent of such disputes are being settled by these student mediators. Recently, the program entered into a relationship with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for Arizona, conducting mediations that so far have resulted in a 62.5% settlement rate.
Our dispute resolution partnership with ASU has been in place for more than fifteen years. In 2005, the law school received the inaugural Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Alternative Dispute Resolution Education Award for its development of innovative curriculum, research and service in the area of alternative dispute resolution. Program students have won the ABA National Representation in Mediation Competition twice (in 2006 and in 2012), the first time that a school has done so--and the first time that the winning coach was a former national champion competitor.