I Am Sam

Event Date: Tuesday September 16, 2003
Time: 6:45 pm
Location: Langdell North, Harvard Law School

Film and Discussion with
Carrie Menkel-Meadow
Georgetown University
Law Center

Sitting in a crowded auditorium on September 16th, law students and other guests were unable to avoid tears as they watched and discussed the personal ramifications of the legal system as represented in the film I Am Sam, the Program on Negotiation’s debut film for the 2003-04 Film Series.

Guest speaker Carrie Menkel-Meadow, Professor of Law at Georgetown Law Center, called the movie “Hollywood’s first ADR [Alternative Dispute Resolution] film,” and led a discussion on the use of negotiation skills by Sam, a mentally challenged father (Sean Penn), his lawyer (Michelle Pfeiffer), and Sam’s seven year old daughter, Lucy Diamond.

As Sam struggles to regain custody of his young daughter, the film’s main actors use their own methods (Lucy’s include repeated midnight walks back to her father’s home) to negotiate a solution that can surpass the binary world of the adversarial legal system. As one student noted, as long as the traditional court system was constrained by its own jargon and fixed procedure, it seemed unable to truly investigate the basis for its own legal standard: pursuing the “best interests of the child.”

Free admission, pizza & drinks!


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