The Dispute Resolution Society

The Dispute Resolution Society (DRS) is a student organization that runs intra-school competitions in negotiation and client counseling. These competitions provide students with the opportunity to learn and practice how to resolve conflict in a non-litigious setting. Winning teams move on to compete in regional and national competitions, where VLS has a winning record.

New DRS members are selected each spring through a special negotiation competition organized by DRS leaders for 1L's and 2L's. Beginning in the fall, members compete in intra-school competitions in negotiation and client counseling. Three winning teams from the negotiation competition move on to compete in regional matches. DRS sends two teams to the American Bar Association (ABA) Negotiation Competition and one team to the Securities Triathlon hosted by St. John's University in New York. One team from the intra-school competition in client counseling competes in the ABA Client Counseling Competition.

DRS teams have a history of strong placement at the regional level and beyond. In 2005, a DRS Negotiation Team earned first place in the national ABA Negotiation Competition finals and represented the United States and VLS at the international competition where the team took third place. In 2010, a DRS Negotiation Team was runner-up in the regional ABA competition, hosted by Harvard Law School, and moved on to compete in the nationals. Also in 2010, the DRS team sent to St. John's Securities Triathlon won the negotiations round of the competition.

Competitions provide opportunities for students and faculty to work together on non-litigation dispute resolution skills. Intra-school competitions are open to all DRS members and VLS faculty, 3L's, and alumni participate as judges. Members and faculty-coaches prepare winners of the intra-school matches for the next level of competition through practice simulations and targeted feedback. Coaches accompany teams to off-campus competitions. All competitions, whether on or off-campus, are group efforts. As Ruth White, VLS 2L and member of the winning team at St. John's 2010 Triathlon, writes in her JD Student Blog, "After the last award was handed out...[w]e rushed onto our train and started sending out text messages and making phone calls to family, friends, and our DRS buddies who had done so much to help us prepare. This really was a society win."