Tuesday, May 23, 2017

ADR in the Arab Gulf


The Future is so Bright, We Will have to Wear Shades



One panel speaker, Assistant Professor Andrew Dahdal, had this to say about last week's ADR conference sponsored by Qatar University College of Law:   
The conference was insightful in many respects. Given that some of my recent research has been looking at the relationship between financial centres and broader national jurisdictions, the discussion concerning the enforcement or arbitral awards in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) was especially interesting.

The conference -- entitled, The Future of Alternative Dispute Resolution -- A Qatari Perspective -- brought together lawyers, scholars, and ADR neutrals to discuss ADR in the Arab Gulf and MENA regions.  Most of the presentations focused on arbitration, which remains the dominant (and nearly exclusive) form of ADR in the region.

The agenda included opening and keynote speeches by:

  • Dr. Mohammed Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi, Dean of Qatar University College of Law.
  • Lord Nicholas Phillips, President of Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Center (QICDRC).
  • Sultan Al-Abdulla, Managing Partner of Sultan Al-Abdulla & Partners, a sponsor of the event.
  • Prof. Bridgette Stern, Emeritus Professor of International Law at the University of Paris,I, Pantheon-Sorbonne.
  • Dr. Talal Al-Emadi, Chair of the Advisory Board of the QU College of Law Center of Law and Development (CLD).
  • Prof. Mohamed S. Abdel Wahab, Chair of Private International Law and Professor of Dispute Resolution at Cairo University.



The conference also consisted of four panel presentations.  Topics included:
  • Alternative Means for Resolving Economic Disputes.
  • Arbitrating Natural Resources Disputes: Current and Future Trends.
  • Arbitration in Intellectual Property Disputes.
  • Conciliation versus Court Ruling -- Management of Chances and Risks.
  • The Role of Civil and Commercial Court of Qatar Financial Center (QFC) Consumer Dispute Resolution Scheme.
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution in Contemporary Times.
  • Future Challenges and Paradigmatic Changes in International Arbitration: A View from Behind the Curtain.
  • Effect of Minority Not Signing Arbitration Award on the Validity of Arbitral Award.
  • New [Qatar] Arbitration Law no. 2 of 2017: Pros and Cons.
  • Arbitration and Criminal Law: The View from Qatar and UAE.
  • Alternative Methods for Resolving Administrative Contract Disputes in Qatar.
  • The Rise and Fall of International Administrative Arbitration: A Revision on the Commerciality of International Arbitration under Egyptian Law.
  • Enforcement of Arbitral Awards.
Several of my QU College of Law colleagues covered these topics, along with representatives of QICDRC and regional lawyers.

I hope that my colleagues create more opportunities to discuss ADR in the region.  As my own research is beginning to reveal, ADR is still in the early stages of institutional development in the Arab Gulf region.  I also hope that the papers presented at the conference get published in a symposium issue of a law journal. 

I have encouraged the conference organizers to create a webpage where people can access conference slides.  I'd hate to see this material go unrecognized in the future. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Week 13: Pansies Versus Crocodiles




The Semester Comes to a Close


I had hoped to post a blog every week of the semester about my experience teaching Legal Research & Writing 1 to my Arab students.  But, the semester gets so intense about Week 10 that I feel happy just to keep up with class prep and grading.  


Over the past two weeks, I have conducted individual conferences with students. We look at their attendance record, the point scores on their assessments, their current ranking in the course, and the chance they have for a higher letter grade.  I then review their written work. 

My female students met with me first.  All of them have been working hard this semester. They are dedicated to their studies and show it by good attendance, preparation for class, and a level of engagement that still surprises me.  After all, we meet from 3 to 4:45 p.m. at the end of a very long day.  


I told them that coming to class is like looking out on the sunny, eager, upturned faces of pansies in a flower garden.  I just love them to pieces.  Now that we know each other better, I see their humor, their struggles in balancing home, careers, and children, and their desire to get a good education with a good GPA. 

Then I met with my male students.  That experience is much different.  After a two-hour class, I feel like I have been "wrestling crocodiles."  Their needs are greater, because they are less prepared for the course.


 
Most of my male students have several children, jobs or businesses, parents who need help, and then a full course schedule. Their attendance for a 9:30 a.m. course is more inconsistent. I need to set more boundaries with them.  I am strict about enforcing course rules. I police more cheating. And, I find myself in more futile negotiations over assessment scores (futile for them). 


Despite being strict with them, I am impressed by their open hearts, good humor, and strong desire to complete the course.

I have about eight male students who show me every class just how smart they are.  One student has perfect attendance and almost perfect scores on the assessments.  They consistently use my office hours to work on their memos. They ask good questions. They help me communicate with my weaker students who struggle because they have poor English language skills.   I am very thankful to them.

We are all exhausted.  My patience runs thin. I need more sleep.  But, all that is true for my students, too. 

I keep telling them:  "I will get you through the semester!"  I keep telling them, as I did the first week of class, that my job is to get them ready for Legal Writing 2.  Most of them are ready.  For the struggling students, their outcome will depend on how they do on the final exam.  I hope they surprise me. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Week 8: My Research Methodology



How I Conducted the Research



Acknowledgments:

First, I want to thank Qatar University College of Law and my Dean Dr. Mohammed A. Al-Khulaifi for their generous support of this research. I also appreciate the help of Dr. Yasser Khalaileh, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Dr. Faouzi Ahmed Belknani, Associate Dean of Research, Dr. Yassin El Shazly, Associate Dean of Outreach and Engagement, and Dr. Conrad Sturm. Finally, I want to thank the many faculty and ADR colleagues who gave me the opportunity to interview them. They generously gave of their time.

The Interviews:

The report reflects about 20 hours of interviews, including the interviews of several QU professors, ADR professionals, law firm attorneys, government attorneys, and a judge sitting on the Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Center (QICDRC). At this point in the process, I have interviewed people who live and work in Qatar, but I have also interviewed two people living in Dubai.

I conducted interviews over a three-month period during January to March 2017. 

 
All of the interviews took at least an hour. About half the interviews lasted longer than that allotted time.

The Interview Questions:

I adopted interview questions based on an Appreciative Inquiry approach, as I explained in the instructions to interviewees.

In creating the questions, I relied on two resources:

  • Jane Magruder Watkins, et al., Appreciative Inquiry: Change at the Speed of Imagination (2d ed. 2011), and
  • Bernard J. Mohr & Jane Magruder Watkins, The Essentials of Appreciative Inquiry: A Roadmap for Creating Positive Futures (2002).

In this initial round of interviews, I was Beta-testing the questions. While I intend to make a few changes to them, overall, they worked to elicit the information I wanted to collect.

The Initial Report:

During each interview, I took at least seven pages of notes. I then collected those responses in a report.

Accordingly, the report reflects two stages of filtration: First, during the notetaking phase of the interview, and then during my transfer of those notes to the framework of the summary.

I apologize in advance if I failed to capture thoughts or comments of the interviewees accurately.

I then identified themes coming out of the interviews and captured some of my favorite comments or quotes. I will talk about those themes in my next post.

Plans:

I intend to do another 40 hours of interviews. I will expand the geographic scope of the interviews to the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and Saudi Arabia (i.e. other GCC countries).

As I do more interviews, I will continue to update and revise the report.

I plan to convert the report to a law review article that I will submit for publication during the Fall 2017 publication cycle in the U.S.

I also will present the results of this research at The "2d International Conference on Non-Adversarial Justice" held by the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration beginning April 6-9, 2017 in Sydney, Australia.

I also plan to do more quantitative research by using on-line surveys that will determine the background, training, and experience of neutrals in the Arab Gulf region. I will also ask about the number of disputes the neutrals have handled and which ADR processes they used. The surveys will also explore how often stakeholders are using ADR to resolve disputes and which processes they prefer.

I deeply enjoyed the opportunity to talk with people in the Arab Gulf ADR community. I want to thank them again for their time and energy. I learned so much from all of them and their comments have identified other lines of research for me.

I hope the report provides insight and guidance for the community as it plans its future.

I look forward to serving that community as it continues to expand.

Week 8: I'm Off to Australia for an ADR Conference!




Scaling Up. 
Working at an International Level

When I decided to move to Qatar, I had hoped to scale up my ADR teaching, training, and practice.  In the U.S., I held the state-wide leadership positions in the Virginia Mediation Network and positions on Virginia Supreme Court-sponsored mediation ethics committees and grievance boards.  I loved those opportunities to serve my community.  

However, because of the financial constraints of my law school, I could not actively participate at a national level in leadership of the Section of Dispute Resolution of the ABA or of the Association for Conflict Resolution. Towards the end of my stay in the U.S., my law school was not even funding my attendance at the annual conferences of these organizations. 

By moving to Qatar and joining the faculty of a well-funded university, I hoped to grow professionally and scale up to a more international ADR practice.  


I was lucky, in hindsight, to leap-frog national level participation when too many barriers existed to my greater involvement.  

So, I am excited to participate in my first international ADR conference on a continent I've always wanted to visit.  The conference is entitled: the "2d International Conference on Non-Adversarial Justice," sponsored by the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration.

I will be speaking on the this topic: "Barriers to ADR in the Arabian Gulf: A Conversation About Training, Capacity, and Culture."  I will be joined by 75 speakers over the three-day event. 

In my next few blogs, I will share some of the research that I will presenting at the conference. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Week 7: Mid-Term Exams Required Some Flexibility on My Part




Best-Laid Plans 
of Mice and Men . . . .

This week, I had planned to take students through a second CREAC exercise to get them ready for the CREAC Test later in the week.

I wrote a new exercise that was more similar to the problem the students would analyze on the test.  They would apply Qatari trade name and trademark law to two restaurants using a very similar trade name: "The Oryx Diner" and "The Oryx Diner on-the-Go."  



At the beginning of the week, I ran through about 50 of the slides I had prepared. Before you gasp in horror, please know that 50 percent of each slide is a photo or other image.  I still had about 20 more slides to discuss before students would feel more confident about the CREAC Test.

In the meantime, many of the students had four or more exams this week.  They were feeling overwhelmed, over-worked, and a little hopeless.  

Because of some scheduling issues, students in my afternoon class had exams scheduled during my class! So, they were missing the test prep I was providing. Then, I learned that half of them had another exam scheduled the same day I planned to give my CREAC Test.

At that point, I surrendered to the situation.  I offered both male and female students the opportunity to take the test next week when their mid-term exam schedule begins to quiet. 

The relief they expressed almost had a tangible quality to it.  If I had made the announcement in a Facebook video, you would have seen those images of a thumbs up and hearts floating across the page.  I had made myself their hero.



As an ADR expert, I was mindful that I had my own interests at stake.  I needed to give students a chance to integrate the lessons and apply them in some homework before the CREAC Test.  I wanted their first drafts of their first CREAC to be reasonably successful.  It makes my life a lot easier during the second half of the semester. 

Not only that, I really did not want to grade a bunch of exams right before I took off for my trip to Australia for an ADR conference.

In short, I met many non-competing interests in postponing the exam.  Win-win, blah, blah, blah . . . .

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Week 6: Finally Writing a CREAC

Conclusion, Rule, Explanation, Application, and Conclusion

I've talked about it for three weeks.  CREAC this and CREAC that.  Now, it's time for the students to write their first legal analysis using this format.  Baby steps. We will do it together.

I have an exercise, based on the post-9/11 U.S. Patriot Act, that involves the effort of our "client" to bring onto an aircraft two sharpened pencils, knitting needles, and nail polish remover.  Are they prohibited dangerous weapons?  At the start of class, students are skeptical. How can these household items be weapons?  

Then, in a dramatic demonstration, I light the nail polish remover on fire, jab the pencils towards the eyes of the nearest student (safely of course), and hold a thin knitting needle near the sternum of another student.

Oh! Now the analysis becomes real. 

The fun part is teaching them how to do the Application, where students compare the facts of the "illustrative case" to our client's facts.  Last year, I started using a T-Chart to help them organize the analysis.  It worked better than I ever expected.  


They practice one more time, with my help, before they are tested on the CREAC structure in Week 7. 

These are the days when I get to see my students' brains work.  I just love it! 


Week 5: The Professor Learns Some Lessons









Working Harder to Create Student Engagement

Qatar University has a very rigorous faculty evaluation program.  Once a year, we must upload a boat load of class-related data to a platform called Digital Measures.  The grousing among faculty members during this "upload" week is extensive, me included.

As part of the process, we must submit a reflection on the past year -- something I enjoy. We also must submit a plan for professional development in the coming year. This year I promised to use the peer-evaluation process offered by OFID (Office of Faculty and Instructional Development).  

Dr. Chris Stryker typically makes these class room visits and evaluations.  Chris, an American with a long history at QU, was great in providing feedback, both in writing and in our conversation after class. I am thankful that most of the feedback was very positive. But he dinged me on creating student engagement. "Ask more, tell less!," as his evaluation notes say. 

In the US, teaching Alternative Dispute Resolution with a curriculum I designed, I was able to create more active learning and student engagement in each class.  Short lecture followed by an activity and then a de-briefing.

Here, I inherited a curriculum design, which I greatly appreciated.  But, I have struggled with the first five weeks of the course in which we do a lot of what I call "content dump," mostly through long lectures. 

I knew Chris was coming last week, so I suggested he attend the regular class or two different labs.  I had two terrific active learning exercises planned for the labs -- the meeting with the partner and the client interview.  But, the regular class was designed as another long lecture.  I had my fingers crossed that he would choose one of the labs.  Instead, he said he would attend the regular class because the labs met so late in the day. 

I gave that long lecture on Sunday to my female class. I had low energy (the class meets from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.) and the room was hot.  At the end of it, I told the students that it was the "most boring lecture I had ever given," and I would never give it again. 

True to my promise, that evening I redesigned the class in anticipation of Chris' visit.  Even so, he dinged me on student engagement. During our de-briefing he suggested several ways to change my techniques.  Basically, he wanted me to provide less answers to questions.  Instead, I needed to make the students work harder to answer the questions themselves.

He also suggested that I:

  • Avoid one-on-one interactions. 
  • Activate student memory to increase engagement.
  • Respond better to changes in student attentiveness. Consider using more breaks to "reset" attention.
  • Avoid giving extensions of time on assignments.
  • Let the male students debate and voice opinions. They love that. 
  • Rebroadcast answers by saying: "Salah, what do you think Hassan meant when he said . . . .?"
  • Consider sitting down with students to create a circle of conversation.
  • Create a phone use policy (and enforce it).
  • Have students read and parse the slides.
  • Specifically cue information students should include in their notes.
  • Add drama and overplay my behavior.
  • Make first hour of class more fast paced and energized. 
  • Use a more authoritarian approach with the male students who will take a mile, if given an inch.
  • Use group work.
  • End with a bang, not a whimper.

I am putting these suggestions here so I can refer to them easily in the future. 

To implement a number of his suggestions, I need to be more selective about the topics we cover in class and the depth of coverage of each topic.  I need to create more time for pure exploration on the part of students.

I find comfort in knowing that the coming weeks will be a lot more interesting for me and the students. The curriculum finally allows for that. 

But, I am thankful Chris attended one of the classes I find most challenging.  And, I have asked if I can see him teach.  That may give me some more concrete examples of ways to foster more student engagement.