Lawyers, mediators, arbitrators and dispute resolution professionals of all types have a new option for getting the training they need to advance in the problem-solving industry. The University of Missouri School of Law is now taking applications for its online master’s in dispute resolution. The School of Law is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. The Law School’s program in dispute resolution has consistently ranked in the top five nationally by U.S. News & World Report.
“The MU School of Law was one of the first U.S. law schools to offer a master of laws focused on dispute resolution,” said Rafael Gely, professor and director of the Center for the Study of Dispute Resolution at Mizzou. “Offering a fully online master of laws in dispute resolution is in-line with the school’s innovative approach to education.”
The new online option offers students flexibility in their schedules as well as future career opportunity. Phillip Blevins, an attorney licensed to practice law in Washington, D.C. and New Jersey, is looking forward to the program becoming available online this fall.
“With the LLM program coming online, I’m going to be able to virtually take any class I could take in Columbia regardless of where I’m at,” said Blevins. “The program at Mizzou is designed to foster opportunities for growth. I’ve got high ambitions to become a judge or professor one day. This program helps me develop a niche and a specialty that will open doors for me in the future.”
A need for problem-solvers
Modern law practitioners are expected to be results-oriented, peak performers, and the new online master of laws (LLM) in dispute resolution prepares students for just that.
“We have been producing successful negotiators since our center began in 1984,” said Paul Ladehoff, director of the LLM program. “The profession is in high demand and our program prepares graduates to work in many settings, not just the courtroom or boardrooms.”
Problem-solvers, as Ladehoff labels the graduates of his program, are needed in all areas of business, corporate relations and personal interactions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the profession will see a 10 percent employment growth through 2026.
Building a sense of community
Although the program is fully online, it is not isolating — small classes allow students to interact with colleagues in various professional settings. Students also have the opportunity to network with some of the most prolific dispute resolution instructors and scholars in the country.
“Our faculty is unmatched,” said Lyrissa Lidsky, dean of the School of Law. “They are constantly advancing the field of dispute resolution and gaining national recognition for their contributions. I think one of the biggest benefits of our new online program is the direct access to such expert faculty.”
The accessible faculty, the diverse course work and the opportunity to form a community with people across the world were Tojan Rahhal’s top reasons for entering the dispute resolution program at Mizzou. Rahhal, who is the assistant dean for inclusive excellence and strategic initiatives at the University of Missouri’s College of Engineering, will be transitioning to the online program in the fall due to the flexibility it offers.
“The program has such a diverse array of classes,” said Rahhal. “You get a taste of law; whether you have a law background or not. It makes for interesting discussions.”
Rahhal uses her passions for STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education and diversity in her current role at the university and thinks the program will add to her skills repertoire in important ways. “My background is unique for this type of program, but a big part of diversity work is communication and dispute resolution,” she said.
Blevins agrees that the program will help students with their current and future endeavors. “I became a lawyer for one reason and one reason only – to help people solve their problems,” he said. “The dispute resolution LLM at Mizzou concentrates on the reason I became an attorney in the first place.”
Two years to complete
The online master of laws in dispute resolution program is 100 percent online: no campus visits are required. Students who take two classes each semester can finish the program in two years. The program is currently accepting applications for the fall semester, with classes beginning in August 2019.