Reflections on Impact of Mediation 25 Years After the Pound Conference

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It has been just over a quarter century since the “Pound Conference,” one of the watershed events in the history of dispute resolution in the United States.

The Pound Conference — formally known as the National Conference on the Causes of Popular Dissatisfaction with the Administration of Justice — took place April 7-9, 1976 in Minneapolis, Minn. The event was a meeting of some 200 judges, legal scholars, and leaders of the bar who had gathered to examine concerns about the efficiency and fairness of court systems and their administration.

During his keynote address at the Pound Conference, then U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger encouraged the increased exploration and use of informal dispute resolution processes. At the same meeting, Harvard Law School Professor Frank E.A. Sander, in an address titled “Varieties of Dispute Processing,” called for periodic “impact statements” that would take a critical look at the accomplishments and challenges of mediation and other dispute resolution processes.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Pound Conference (as well as heed Professor Sander’s advice about periodic reviews), a distinguished group of legal scholars met at the Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law last fall to take stock of the Pound Conference’s impact on the field of mediation and mediation’s impact on the administration of justice. The results of that symposium have just been published in a special issue of the Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution (Vol. 17, No. 3).

Following an introduction by Ohio State Professor of Law L. Camille Hebert, the special issue features eight other essays, including “Some Concluding Thoughts” by Professor Sander on dispute resolution today and the need for increased research efforts. Sander is Bussey Professor of Law at Harvard as well as one of the founders of the Program on Negotiation (PON) and co-director of the Dispute Resolution Program, one of PON’s component research projects.

Other authors and the titles of their essays in this special issue are:

  • Joseph B. Stulberg, “Questions”;
  • Dorothy J. Della Noce, “Mediation Theory and Policy: The Legacy of the Pound Conference”;
  • Lisa A. Kloppenberg, “Implementation of Court-Annexed Environmental Mediators: The District of Oregon Pilot Project”;
  • Lela Porter Love, “Twenty-Five Years Later with Promises to Keep: Legal Education in Dispute Resolution and Training of Mediators”;
  • Robert W. Rack, Jr., “Thoughts of a Chief Circuit Mediator on Federal Court-Annexed Mediation”;
  • Douglas A. Van Epps, “The Impact of Mediation on State Courts”; and
  • Roselle L. Wissler, “Court-Connected Mediation in General Civil Cases: What We Know from Empirical Research.”

To subscribe or obtain additional information about this particular issue, those interested should visit the website of the Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution: Or write to the following address: Business Editor, Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution, 55 West 12th Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43210-1391.

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