Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2022 graduates.
Shannon Taylor was looking for a leg-up in her conflict resolution career.
Taylor, who works for the Upper Peninsula Commission for Area Progress (UPCAP) Dispute Resolution Center in Michigan, says she found her way to the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law just six months into her job.
She had completed a 40-hour general civil training and a 48-hour domestic training but felt that she still faced a significant learning curve.
Looking for a program that provided a strong legal foundation, but specifically focused on conflict resolution, Taylor discovered the Master of Legal Studies (MLS) online degree program at ASU Law, where dispute resolution is ranked No. 13 best in the nation.
“I chose ASU Law because the curriculum for my degree path directly correlated with the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in my current role,” Taylor said. “Out of all the MLS programs I explored, ASU provided the best options for me in regard to my core classes and electives.”
While at ASU Law, she participated in the American Bar Association’s Representation in Mediation Competition and was awarded a scholarship from the Foundation of the Association of Legal Administrators while at ASU Law.
Taylor shared insight and advice for those looking to continue their education.
Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU Law — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?
Answer: My academic experience at ASU Law changed my perspective on how I can evolve in my profession.
The state of Michigan was greatly impacted by COVID-19 and it changed the way we look at ADR (alternative dispute resolution) almost overnight. One of the biggest challenges that myself and my colleagues faced during the pandemic was the training of ADR professionals.
Prior to COVID, all mediator training in the state of Michigan was conducted in person. With COVID, we had to create standards for online training, and there were many who questioned whether or not online training would be effective. My education, specifically my negotiations course, at ASU Law was my argument for the fact that online mediation training can be just as effective if not more so than in-person training.
Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?
A: The professor who taught me the most important lesson while at ASU Law is Professor Larry Bridgesmith. As the Training Committee Chairperson for the Michigan Community Mediation Association (MCMA), Professor Bridgesmith inspired me to view and treat mediator training not as “training” but as higher education. The way in which Professor Bridgesmith executed the master’s level Negotiation Course (SDO 535) inspired me to design mediator training programs that mimic the level of education I received in his negotiations course.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
A: The best piece of advice I would give to those still in school would be to utilize the experience and knowledge of your professors. Maintain communication with them throughout your tenure at ASU as they are an invaluable resource.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: Post-graduation I plan on continuing my work at the UPCAP Community Dispute Resolution Center. I also plan on exploring teaching opportunities at my local community college and university.
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