Holy Cross’ Mediation Team teaches students two of life’s most valuable skills: peacemaking and negotiating. After students graduate from Holy Cross, their professional and personal lives will present many challenges, some more daunting than others, that require conflict resolution. After competing against the top student-mediators and advocates in the United States and around the world, Holy Cross Mediation Team members enter the world with a unique set of skills, enabling them to lead the way in brokering peace and finding common ground with people from diverse backgrounds and with differences of opinion.
In 1984, Warren E. Burger, then the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, said: “our trials are too costly, too painful, too destructive, too inefficient for a truly civilized people.” It would delight Justice Burger to know that mediation and alternative dispute resolutions are an increasingly important component of the legal system, and Holy Cross is at the leading edge of preparing its students to participate in this area of practice.
Coach Edward McDermott explains the differences between litigation — when the goal is to beat the other side — and mediation — when the goal is reaching a fair deal for both sides — this way: “litigation is court-driven; it spans across years, which is expensive and frustrating for the parties. Often, trying cases is like engaging in combat. And worst of all, you never know what a jury will ultimately decide. Mediation, by contrast, is much less expensive, less time consuming, and the parties actually retain control of their own destinies in their cases. Parties are empowered in mediation — that is not so in litigation.”
Holy Cross competes annually in International Academy of Dispute Resolution (INADR) academic mediation competitions. Each “mediation” has three roles: mediator, advocate, and client. In each round, four schools face off: an advocate-client pair from one school against an advocate-client pair from another, in addition to two mediators from two different schools. A neutral judge scores each participant on his/her individual performance.
Each fall, the Mediation Team competes regionally in New England for the chance to reach the National Undergraduate Mediation Championship, which is held in various venues across the country. The top five undergraduate mediation teams earn a bid to compete at the International Law School Mediation Tournament in Europe.
Holy Cross boasts one of the most successful undergraduate mediation teams in the nation. In the 2016-17 academic year, Holy Cross finished second in the nation at the National Undergraduate Mediation Championship Tournament in Dallas, Texas, and earned a spot in the international championship in Glasgow, Scotland. Holy Cross’s second-place finish is a register of the team’s countless hours of preparation, and helped secure a spot to compete at the championship in Glasgow, Scotland.