WVU law students lend skills to Grad Nation initiative

By The West Virginia Record | Nov 23, 2010

MORGANTOWN -- West Virginia University College of Law Alternative Dispute Resolution Society members are working with community volunteers to assist with the Monongaila County Schools' Grad Nation initiative, facilitating a series of community forums to address issues associated with local high school drop-out rates.

The students also will assist with consolidating and reporting forum results to the Monongalia County Board of Education and The Education Alliance of West Virginia by Dec. 31.

In preparation for the forum facilitations, WVU Law professor Tom Patrick conducted a half-day training session in September. A dozen students and community members volunteered to assist with the 12 scheduled Grad Nation forums.

The Alternative Dispute Resolution Society is a student organization dedicated to promoting student interest in ADR at West Virginia University College of Law. The society serves to help students gain an understanding of and promote the use of ADR as an effective alternative to litigation. The group provides students the opportunity to hear from prominent ADR experts in the field and to organize and participate in local mediation trainings and competitions.

Additionally, the group is instrumental in maintaining the Magistrate Court mediation program in West Virginia by organizing and volunteering for monthly mediation.

Monongalia County is one of four West Virginia school districts awarded $10,000 grants from The Education Alliance to solicit community input on strategies for improving the state's high school graduation rate.

The district's initiative concluded with a public Grad Nation forum on Nov. 17.

"The Monongalia County Schools and several WVU colleges have enjoyed long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships," said Monongalia School Superintendent Dr. Frank Devono. "To my knowledge, the ADR students' assistance with our Grad Nation initiative is the first collaboration between the public schools and the WVU College of Law. We appreciate the students' involvement and look forward to future collaborative opportunities."

"West Virginia University College of Law Students, especially those interested in ADR, are particularly well equipped to help with community efforts, such as the Grad Nation initiative," said Brian Corcoran, WVU College of Law ADR Society president. "The ability to facilitate discussion on controversial issues among a variety of people is an important facet of mediators', arbitrators' and attorney negotiators' practices.

"Our students are very excited about assisting with this community-based initiative, which also allows them opportunities to practice and hone their facilitation skills in a real-word context."

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