U.S. Department of State Brings South American Legal Professionals to Law School for Discussion on ADR in the United States

Recently, 10 judges, prosecutors, district attorneys, and other legal professionals from across South America came to Washington University School of Law to discuss conflict resolution and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) with C.J. Larkin, senior lecturer in law and administrative director of the Negotiation and Dispute Resolution Program.


The meeting, held under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), was coordinated by the World Affairs Council of St. Louis. Participants hailed from Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Paraguay, and Peru. Their St. Louis visit was part of a 21-day project in which the experts in victim services, corruption, drug enforcement, and police reform traveled to Washington, D.C., and other U.S. cities to study various aspects of the American justice system.

The project’s general topic was “Administration of Justice” and focused on the underlying principles of the U.S. judicial and legal systems; the “culture of lawfulness” in the United States; U.S. systems of civil, criminal, juvenile, and military justice; and the administration of courts, case management, and the trial-by-jury process.

In St. Louis, the group honed in on ADR. Additionally, the South American experts—who communicated mostly through simultaneous translators provided by the State Department—were concerned with international abduction and family mediation issues.

“They were interested in our efforts to promote and teach conflict resolution at the law school,” Larkin says. “They were also focused on child abduction, mediation, and family issues, as well as mediation and domestic violence. We discussed methods to insure the safety of the victim if she chooses to engage in mediation with her abuser—for example, screening the victim and the abuser to determine if mediation is appropriate and, if so, possibly using other formats, such as telephone mediation rather than in-person mediation.”

Larkin adds that the group represented a broad range of expertise, including criminal law, domestic law, and extrajudicial practice, and had diverse interests in ADR.

“As many of them are involved in international criminal justice and child-safety systems, we discussed how our mediators are trained and how they might select and collaborate with mediators from the U.S.,” she says. “It was fascinating to gain their perspectives and to hear their questions and concerns about ADR in the United States.”


- By Timothy J. Fox