Dispute Systems Design Across Context and Continents

Please join us to learn more about dispute systems design and engage in what we anticipate will be a lively and thoughtful series of discussions. The Symposium is open to the public and admission is free.

Please RSVP by March 3 to hnlr@law.harvard.edu.

Featuring leading scholars and practitioners, including:

Ken Feinberg
Special Master of the Federal September 11th Victim
Compensation Fund

David Miller
Staff Ombudsman for the World Health Organization

Cathy Costantino
Adjunct Professor at Georgetown Law School and George Washington Law School

Click here for schedule
Speaker Bios (pdf)

What is Dispute Systems Design?

Our world is becoming more complex every day. As scholars, attorneys and consultants, we may be faced with the following problems:

A post-conflict state in need of a constitutional structure and governing framework.
A company with costly labor unrest and high turnover.
A region hit by an unexpected disaster and ensuing claims for compensation.

Governments, institutions and individuals look to lawyers for assistance in situations such as these and many more, yet most lawyers have little if any formal training on how to approach such complex problems in a systematic and holistic way.

This symposium will encourage dialogue on these issues as well as broaden the field’s audience.

Schedule (as of 11.29.2008)

Friday, March 7, 2008
1:00 – 3:00 P.M. Registration
3:00 – 3:30 P.M. Introduction to Dispute Systems Design
3:45 – 5:15 P.M. Panel 1
5:15 – 6:15 P.M. Reception
Saturday, March 8, 2008
8:00 – 9:00 A.M. Registration
9:00 – 10:30 A.M. Panel 2
11:00 A.M. – 12:30 P.M. Panel 3
12:30 – 1:45 P.M. Lunch
1:45 – 3:15 P.M. Panel 4
3:45 – 5:15 P.M. Panel 5


Professor Robert Bordone will introduce symposium participants to the theory and promise of dispute systems design

3:45 – 5:15 P.M.
Panel 1: Dealing with the Inevitable: DSD in the Institutional Context

A notable DSD practitioner has explained that “conflict is like water: we cannot live with too much or too little of it.” Conflict is an inevitable part of everyday life. We encounter it in our classrooms and workplaces. Various solutions have been offered, but as these institutions become ever larger and more complex, how can we best manage our conflicts to reap benefits and minimize costs?

  • Moderator, James Sebenius
  • Cathy Costantino
  • Lisa Bingham
  • Mary Rowe
  • Jan Martinez

March 8, 2008
9:00 – 10:30 A.M.
Panel 2: Dispute System Design on a Global Scale

As the globe has gotten smaller, new types of conflicts have developed, and new ideas have formed on how to deal with them. Trade disputes can be brought to the World Trade Organization (WTO), corporations submit themselves to international arbitration norms, and the UN provides yet another forum for resolving disputes. This panel will discuss questions such as how have these systems evolved, what challenges they face, and how best to respond to those challenges.

  • Moderator, Gabriella Blum
  • Amy Cohen
  • Rachel Brewster
  • Andrea Schneider
  • David Miller

11:00 A.M. – 12: 30 P.M.
Panel 3: DSD in Times of Crisis

Our justice system traditionally presumes that conflicts arise between two parties: a single complainant and a single defendant. This notion is becoming increasingly outmoded. Class actions suits and mass tort cases test our current system’s ability to efficiently and justly resolve disputes while meeting the interests of multiple parties. Can we use DSD principles to rethink handling these types of complex situations?

  • Moderator, Michael Moffitt
  • Francis McGovern
  • Ken Feinberg
  • Udi Eiran
  • Janet Alexander

1:45 – 3:15 P.M.
Panel 4: A Constitutional Issue: DSD at the Birth of a Nation

Constitutions map out a plan to resolve conflicts in society through legal and political processes. Drafters of constitutions are thus fundamentally Dispute Systems Designers. This panel will open up a dialogue between the field of DSD and the field of constitutional law, and find out what we can learn from each other.

  • Moderator, Erin Ryan
  • Eileen Babbitt
  • Noah Feldman
  • Robert Mnookin
  • Adil Najam

3:45 – 5:15 P.M.
Panel 5: Emerging Issues in DSD

Where is Dispute Systems Design heading? What are the ethical questions facing a Dispute Systems Designer? To what extent can these principles be applied to other fields? What are its criticisms and how do scholars and practitioners respond? This panel will encourage the audience to think about these questions and build upon a strong foundation for the next generation of Dispute Systems Design scholarship.

  • Moderator, Florrie Darwin
  • Bob Bordone
  • Carrie Menkel-Meadow
  • Brian Bloch
  • Stephanie Smith

Speaker Bios (pdf)


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