New co-directors take helm of Center on Dispute Resolution

Kaas and Pillsbury
From left: Carolyn Kaas, associate professor of law, and Charles Pillsbury, distinguished practitioner in residence for dispute resolution
March 10, 2014 - The School of Law has named Carolyn Kaas, associate professor of law, and Charles Pillsbury, distinguished practitioner in residence for dispute resolution, as the co-directors of its Center on Dispute Resolution.

The change in leadership comes after the center's long-time director, Jennifer Gerarda Brown, was named dean of the School of Law.

Since 1998, the center has created opportunities for both dispute resolution professionals and law students to engage in dialogue and attend training to develop knowledge and skills in this growing field.

The center's offerings include the Quinnipiac-Yale Dispute Resolution Workshop, a lecture series featuring nationally recognized scholars and practitioners. It also hosts a 40-hour mediation training course, which provides a comprehensive introduction to mediation and conflict management for attorneys and other professionals. The center sponsors a biennial dispute resolution symposium with the Connecticut Bar Foundation.

Kaas says there's growing emphasis on mediation and alternative dispute resolution in the legal field and in law school curricula. "It's a complete revolution in legal practice," Kaas says. "It's great to be one of a handful of schools already doing it."  

Quinnipiac offers a concentration in civil advocacy and dispute resolution. Law students are also active in the Society for Dispute Resolution, regularly competing in the American Bar Association Negotiation Competition and the ABA Mediation Competition.

In addition to teaching, Kaas serves as director of clinical programs at the School of Law. She serves on the board of the Connecticut Council for Non-Adversarial Divorce and is a founding board member of The Non-Defensive Voice International.

A member of the Connecticut Bar since 1975, Pillsbury has worked as a mediator for 25 years. The former executive director and current treasurer of Mediators Beyond Borders International, Pillsbury is a co-founder of the Connecticut Mediation Network and is a founding member of the National Association for Community Mediation. He came to Quinnipiac University School of Law in 2010 as a distinguished visiting fellow, teaching classes on a part-time basis.

Kaas and Pillsbury have big plans for the center, including expanding the center's educational and training role. The pair also plans to expand the center's collaboration with the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine. In Fall 2014, the School of Law will move to a new state-of-the-art facility on Quinnipiac's North Haven Campus, which is also home to the Center for Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences. The new space will feature a Dispute Resolution Suite and Mock Trial Practice Room for the school's highly successful student competition teams--Mock Trial, Moot Court, and Society for Dispute Resolution.

Health care is an area where dispute resolution and mediation skills are greatly needed, according to Pillsbury. "There are many sources of conflict," he says, such as disputes involving patients, among providers and between health care organizations and regulatory agencies. "These issues all have to be negotiated or, if negotiations fail, mediated, to avoid other more costly and time-consuming adjudicative processes."

"Dispute resolution is an incredibly important skill for a young lawyer to have," Pillsbury says. Ninety-five percent of legal matters are eventually resolved outside court, he says, and negotiation and mediation skills are crucial.

Pillsbury predicts that in the next five to 10 years, law schools will begin to adapt their curricula to integrate dispute resolution in a more comprehensive way. At Quinnipiac, Pillsbury says, "We're well on the way toward that future."

Quinnipiac's program in civil advocacy and dispute resolution is ranked 12th nationwide in U.S. News and World Report's 2013 Best Law Schools.