Hon. Bruce Wettman
Director, Mediation Clinic
Students at South Texas College of Law Houston are able to get real world experience in resolving a variety of disputes through their enrollment in the Mediation Clinic. Unlike the other clinical courses, students in the clinic do not serve as an advocate or represent clients. Rather, students act as neutral third-party mediators who assist others, most often parties to small claim disputes, in resolving matters. Cases vary and include civil matters such as landlord-tenant, contract, employment and consumer disputes. The cases are most often referred to the clinic through the local Justice of the Peace Courts in Harris and surrounding counties, along with the Houston Better Business Bureau. In addition, these mediators have also had the opportunity to mediate truancy matters for the Houston Independent School District in conjunction with the Harris County Dispute Resolution Center. In order to enroll in the clinic, students must have completed the course work in mediation and be in compliance with the Texas Statute 154.052 requiring forty classroom hours of instruction in the mediation process.
Through this clinical experience students are able to develop and refine a variety of interpersonal skills that are important to effective problem solving and practical lawyering. In particular, they explore the rapidly developing field of alternative dispute resolution and contemporary law practice with its emphasis on settlement. As part of the classroom component of this clinic, students are also gain an understanding of the current expansion in Online Dispute Resolution. (ODR) In addition to its education mission, the clinic also provide public service by its assistance to the courts and the school district.
During the fall 2014 semester, clinic students had a 92% settlement rate and settled 121 of 131 cases.
The Mediation Clinic is now partnering with the regional Houston office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to offer clinic students a rare opportunity to gain experience mediating Federal employment disputes. These disputes involve charges of race, sex, color, religion, national origin, retaliation, age, and/or disability discrimination. Since the partnership began in 2012, our Mediation Clinic students have mediated 39 EEOC mediations totaling more than $259,000 in monetary relief. If you are interested in learning more about this exciting opportunity, please contact Debra Berman at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 713-646-2997.