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Innovative Law School Teaching Tool Reaches Out to a Generation Raised on Video

September 02, 2008

PHILADELPHIA -- A University of Pennsylvania Law School professor is introducing a way of teaching mediation law using an interactive, multi-media approach, combining a text book with an instructional DVD.

Douglas Frenkel's new book, "The Practice of Mediation: A Video Integrated Text," co-authored with James Stark of the University of Connecticut Law School, is the first law-school textbook to include video, which shows professional mediators plying their skills.

"The video is very powerful," Frenkel said. "Students retain what they see during their homework, and their reactions to the video stand out in their minds."

The three cases featured in the book and six-hour long DVD are based on cases Frenkel has mediated. On the unscripted videos, actors play the roles of the disputants, and nine professional mediators handle the disputes. One case involves a dispute between a client and contractor in a kitchen renovation project. The others are child-custody and personal-injury cases.

The professional mediators include a former judge, lawyers and a psychotherapist.

"We wanted to celebrate different styles of mediation and showcase the range of approaches, illustrate some of the key debates in the field and examine how much influence a mediator should have," Frenkel said.

The book will be used in law schools beginning in the fall.