The Mediation Clinic for Families is a three-credit, one-semester course. The use of mediation as a process for resolving disputes has become increasingly widespread over the past decade. For many parties in conflict, the prospect of a lengthy and costly legal process is not appealing. Mediation offers an alternative during which parties have an opportunity to collaborate in resolving conflict with the aid of an impartial, third party.
The Mediation Clinic for Families partners with the court system and a variety of Maryland legal organizations to provide students with a wide range of opportunities in this expanding practice area. Students both mediate disputes themselves and represent clients in mediation. The types of disputes for which students may provide mediation or client representation include child custody and visitation, divorce, foreclosure of the family home, wills and school conflicts. Students also engage in projects designed to educate communities about what mediation is and the advantages it may offer in resolving disputes.
In recent cases and projects, students have:
- Represented parents and served as mediators in disputes involving a range of issues regarding custody and visitation.
- Represented a family member who filed an appeal in a probate case and was sent to mediation with the Court of Special Appeals Mediation Office.
- Co-mediated a third-party guardianship case involving child support, visitation and custody.
- Conducted a mediation for parents, students, teachers and school administrators in a Baltimore City public middle school regarding bullying incidents.
- Advised homeowners about foreclosure mediation during Foreclosure Prevention Pro Bono Project workshops.
- Represented a client in a collaborative divorce in which MCF students and faculty worked with a financial expert, child specialist and another attorney to help a family resolve issues related to the end of the marriage.
- Designed a study to evaluate whether agreements reached in mediation are more sustainable if the participants are represented by counsel during the mediation.
For more, read the student attorney’s article about this experience.
Students taking the clinic will be licensed to practice law under Maryland Rule 16 and, therefore, must have taken or be currently enrolled in Professional Responsibility while taking this clinic. In addition, students must have completed or be currently enrolled in a course that provides at least 40 hours of general mediation training, either through the Mediation Skills course or through an approved training outside the School of Law. This clinic is available to evening students. The Mediation Clinic for Families selects its students through the lottery process.