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ASU's Foreclosure Mediation Unit earns award for outstanding practical achievement

January 29, 2013

The Foreclosure Mediation Unit at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law has received the 2012 Outstanding Practical Achievement award from the International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution for its innovative work in the field of alternative dispute resolution.

Established in 2011, the unit was created by the College of Law’s Lodestar Dispute Resolution Program to provide impartial mediation services between lenders and residential borrowers facing foreclosure. Law students in the program learn commercial mediation skills and work with Unit staff to prepare for and conduct mediations. The unit currently is administering a program to assist the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Arizona in the management of bankruptcy cases that involve disputes concerning residential mortgages and foreclosures.

“We are grateful to the Institute for recognizing our unique work in creating dispute resolution avenues for lenders and for borrowers facing foreclosure,” Douglas Sylvester, dean of the college, said. “This prestigious award is a testament to the innovation of our Foreclosure Mediation Unit specifically, and our clinical programs, generally. This honor would not have been possible without the tireless effort and student-focused leadership that our world-class faculty regularly exhibit.”

The institute is a New York City-based nonprofit think tank and alliance of global corporations, law firms, scholars and public institutions dedicated to the principles of commercial conflict prevention and alternative dispute resolution.

Its annual awards focus on processes, techniques, systems, commitment and scholarship that address the resolution, prevention, or creative management of major disputes between corporations, governments or other parties.

“The opportunity to develop and operate the program has been a rewarding experience for everyone involved,” said Timothy Burr, director of the Foreclosure Mediation Unit. “We are indebted to the Office of the Arizona Attorney General for providing the initial grant to establish the program, and for all the support we have received from the bankruptcy court judges and staff, the debtors’ and creditors’ bars, and members of the community.”

Art Hinshaw, director of the Lodestar Dispute Resolution Program, said the Foreclosure Mediation Unit has been a great success.

“Using the academic theories of dispute system design, the Foreclosure Mediation Unit has been able to serve the needs of the people and business community in a way that very few thought possible,” Hinshaw said. “The Unit’s success is simple, if the right people are at the negotiation table, their communication issues can be solved. And once their communication improves, they have the opportunity to discuss and resolve the bigger problem.”