Appalachian School of Law

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Appalachian School of Law

Post by TLS_user » Sat Oct 08, 2005 2:14 pm

Law School Programs >> Virginia Law Schools
Appalachian School of Law is located in Grundy, VA.

Please "post a reply" and add any comments you have about the Appalachian School of Law (ASL). Many generations of prospective law students will benefit by the information you share.


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Joined: Wed Nov 22, 2006 5:18 pm

Unique Program

Post by pyoung » Wed Nov 22, 2006 6:25 pm


November 13, 2006

The ABA Section on Dispute Resolution and the University of Oregon School of Law have collaborated for the past several years to provide an on-line, searchable database of information about law school dispute resolution programs. The database is available at: The online database replaced the old, hard copy survey the ABA once published every few years.

Required Courses

The database reveals that Appalachian School of Law's dispute resolution curriculum is unique in several ways. The curriculum offers students a unique opportunity to become leaders in the field of ADR. First, ASL is the only law school established with an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) focus. The ABA database also reveals that ASL is one of three law schools requiring all its students to take an ADR survey class. Only Georgetown and the University of Missouri-Columbia also require ADR courses. The curriculum reflects the realities of lawyering in an era of the so-called “Vanishing Trial.” Research shows that Appalachian School of Law students who take only the required survey course likely have more training in ADR than most practicing attorneys. This training creates more employment opportunities for students and allows graduates to more skillfully represent clients.

Advanced ADR Courses

Facilitated (typically mediation) and unfacilitated negotiation skills will continue to play a huge role in the litigation and business practices of attorneys. The data show that most civil cases resolve before trial (98% in federal courts; 85% in state courts) and most of those cases are apparently settled. Virginia courts, for example, refer 10,000 cases to mediation each year. To meet the requirements of skillful practice in this era, ASL offers an Advanced Negotiation practicum. It provides students with masters’ level-training in negotiation strategy, theory, and skills. Its Certified Civil Mediation class provides both beginning and advanced mediation training. These courses leverage off the increased knowledge students acquire in the required Dispute Resolution survey class.

In addition, the number of disputes filed with third-party arbitration providers now exceeds the number of cases filed in federal courts nationwide. One study conducted in Los Angeles with respect to a hypothetical “average Joe” showed that 35.4 percent of the consumer transactions in his life were now covered by arbitration clauses. Contracts in the financial services (credit cards, banking, investment and tax services) were most likely to contain arbitration clauses (69.2 percent). Thus, Appalachian School of Law ’s seminar on Arbitration and Dispute Resolution System Design prepares students for the day when they will almost certainly represent a client in arbitration. It also provides the information they need to return to their communities to design dispute resolution systems for courts, employers, associations, unions, government agencies, and other organizations.

The database also reveals that ASL’s dispute resolution curriculum offers students more choices than any other law school in Virginia. Its curriculum is also more diverse than the ADR courses offered by thirteen law schools located in Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and North Carolina.

Moreover, with the addition of Assistant Professor Alkon to the faculty, Appalachian School of Law is the only law school in the United States to have two professors who graduated from the prestigious LL.M. program in dispute resolution offered by the University of Missouri-Columbia. Associate Professor Young, the other ADR faculty member, also graduated from the program.

Unique Course Offerings

Moreover, Appalachian School of Law offers several unique courses. No other school offers ADR in Criminal Cases. The course covers a variety of alternative processes including plea bargaining, therapeutic justice, and restorative justice. The course reflects the research revealing that, in federal courts, trials resolved only five percent of criminal dispositions in 2002 compared to fifteen percent in 1962. The absolute number of criminal trials has also diminished, from 5,097 in 1962 to 3,574 in 2002. State courts have seen a similar trend. The overall rate of criminal trials in 22 states (58 percent of U.S. population) dropped from 8.5 percent to 3.3 percent. These cases settle without trial in increasing numbers relying on a variety of processes in addition to traditional plea bargaining. Traditional plea bargaining relies heavily on the negotiation skills of both prosecutors and defense lawyers. Most jurisdictions increasingly use therapeutic justice (for example, drug courts). Restorative justice (including victim-offender mediation and conferencing) is also a growing practice, especially in Virginia. It happens before, in lieu of, or as part of a plea bargain.

In addition, no other law school offers ADR system design training at the J.D. level. Also, the Client Interviewing and Counseling practicum will introduce students to a new client-lawyer representation model, collaborative lawyering, that is catching on in the family law area and makes great sense for lawyers practicing in rural areas. See

ADR Certificate Program

Finally, the database lists Appalachian School of Law as one of only seven law schools with an ADR-related certificate program. The ASL program is called the Lawyer as Problem Solver Certificate program. The program focuses on the role of the modern attorney in facilitating problem solving for clients both inside and outside of the courtroom. The program seeks to provide students with the skills they need effectively to serve their clients, including skills in oral and written communication, interviewing and counseling, negotiation, dispute resolution, transactional drafting, estate planning, and pre-trial, trial and appellate practice.

History of ADR Focus at Appalachian School of Law

In 1996, when it began developing the law school, ASL’s original Steering Committee envisioned a graduate who would emphasize problem-solving skills and adhere to high professional ethics. The graduates would represent a throw back to an earlier generation of lawyers, who were more than hired guns, and instead were esteemed leaders in their local communities. The Feasibility Study called these types of lawyers “community based generalists.”

The Steering Committee explained that the school should emphasize an ADR curriculum because: “[O]ur federal and state courts have become overburdened with litigation and the [litigation] process has slowed dramatically and become costly.” The Committee also suggested that litigation had caused the legal system to become too confrontational. It hoped to graduate lawyers who “are willing to serve the public as well as [the] client and who seek to resolve rather than heighten conflict.” The report noted that only two years earlier the ABA had organized a new section on Dispute Resolution, which quickly attracted 5,000 members. Just recently, the ABA reported that the section now has 10,000 members, which itself shows the increasing role of ADR in the practice of lawyers.

ASL student

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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 2:57 pm

Re: Appalachian School of Law

Post by ASL student » Mon Jan 21, 2008 3:07 pm

I just ran across this blog today and thought I'd share a link that might be helpful to those interrested in attending ASL. I am a 3rd year student there and have tried to reach some of the incoming students to help them prepare. The site below, which provides some housing suggestions, is but one example. I hope it is helpful.

asl student


Posts: 57
Joined: Sun Jan 31, 2010 1:44 pm

Re: Appalachian School of Law

Post by Fef619 » Sun Jan 31, 2010 2:40 pm

ASL student wrote:I just ran across this blog today and thought I'd share a link that might be helpful to those interrested in attending ASL. I am a 3rd year student there and have tried to reach some of the incoming students to help them prepare. The site below, which provides some housing suggestions, is but one example. I hope it is helpful.

asl student

Hey, perhaps you could share your experience at ASL...I recently got accepted and was curious if you could answer the following questions:

Have you had a positive experience at ASL?

One aspect that you dislike about ASL?

Perhaps you could explain a little about the international law program at ASL?

Internship opportunities?

Thank you for your help.

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