Does this ring a Bell?
Alternate Dispute Resolution. Does this ring a bell? Probably not, but let me explain.
Last Monday night, I had the opportunity to attend the Prelaw Seminar. Every semester, Pensacola Christian College hosts a seminar for students who plan on attending law school or have interests in government and politics. The seminar usually features a keynote speaker from the legal profession, such as prosecutors, mediators, and judges. Some previous speakers have included Nancy Hess, who is an Assistant District Attorney with the U.S. Justice Department; Michael Jones, a local county judge; and Lacey Collier, a George H.W. Bush appointee.
This semester’s guest speaker was Kenneth B. Bell, former Justice to the Florida Supreme Court (2003-2008). Mr. Bell is a seventh-generation Pensacolian whose family immigrated to the Pensacola area around 1819, when Florida still was a Spanish colony. He was also the first justice to come out of Pensacola in over a century, the first from west of Tallahassee since 1917, and the only justice on the State Court with prior experience as a trial judge.
At the seminar, Mr. Bell highlighted Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR), a secondary option to the normal court process. He related a story to us about a pair of feuding men who argued about a piece of land worth $1,300. The two men took the dispute to court instead of using ADR. As a result, the court battle lasted several years, costing the men over $42,000 in legal fees. If they had used the alternate system, they would have saved themselves a lot of time, money, and strife.
Mr. Bell described his practice as an ADR mediator. As a mediator, he focuses on bringing the two feuding parties together to meet a mutual resolution. The great thing about a mediator—as Mr. Bell pointed out—is that the mediator is able to involve himself in conflict, provide support, and ultimately encourage the two parties to reconcile. Reconciliation, Mr. Bell iterated, is the most important part of any legal case. In order to achieve this, he openly admits to relying on his Christian faith.
It was encouraging to learn about Mr. Bell’s testimony in the field of law. I am especially grateful for his stance for the Lord and his service in the legal profession. It is a noble profession that requires a great deal of discipline, effort, and dedication—but like any profession, it needs more Christians that will stand for the Lord and apply His precepts to mend human conflicts.
Like many speakers before him, Mr. Bell provided intriguing insight to the legal profession and the path to getting there. That is one of the great aspects of the Prelaw seminar: the speakers always have practical advice for PCC students. They often relate the tips and tricks that helped them in their time during college and the application process for law school.
As a prospective law school student, I really enjoy attending the Prelaw seminars every semester. It is always refreshing to meet legal professionals who have gone through the rigors of study that every law student faces. To me, the best part is hearing their personal experiences: whether at their job, at law school, or during their undergraduate career, they always have pertinent advice that I try to lock away for use later on when I go to law school myself.
“How’d you like it?” I asked. I knew full well that most of the information probably wasn’t pertinent to what he was studying at the time.
“All knowledge is good knowledge,” he replied with a grin.0