Roberto Corrada joined the Conflict Resolution Institute Core Faculty eight years ago. He was recruited by CRI Co-Director Tamra Pearson d'Estrée because Corrada is a labor attorney with a great deal of experience in arbitration, including helping to set up an opt-in arbitration program for General Motors (GM) and its dealerships, redesigning the entire process.
One of the challenges he faced in this role occurred when General Motors faced service and warrantee challenges in Puerto Rico. The U.S. territory does not sell vehicles through dealerships, so Corrada needed to obtain the services of a local law firm to resolve conflicts that dealerships typically manage for GM. As he reflects on the experience, he realizes the company would have benefited greatly from the services of a conflict resolution professional to set up a dispute resolution process for the company.
His work has since focused on labor then employment arbitration. The Gilmer v. Interstate/Johnson Lane Corp. Supreme Court decision in 1991 has resulted in an expansion of arbitration in workplace disputes and employment contracts. Yet, Corrada notes, law schools still tend to focus on adjudication, despite clogged courts and an increasing thrust towards mediation and arbitration, which are not typically required courses in law school.
Since law is all about solving problems and resolving conflicts, Corrada thinks that future growth in the field will be in efficient dispute resolution processes. As such, he recommends all law students take courses in mediation and arbitration. Similarly, he advises students in conflict resolution be aware of the law and legal processes.
Over the past eight years, Corrada has worked with several conflict resolution students on theses and other research -- particularly those interested in collective bargaining and/or professional sports, which has some of the most powerful labor unions in the country. Other powerful labor groups include those in the performing arts, film and longshoremen. Th ere have also been a few conflict resolution MA students that have pursued dual degrees with the Sturm College of Law.
In 2000, Corrada was selected as national Carnegie scholar for his active and collaborative learning efforts in his labor law classroom. In 2002, he was named University of Denver College of Law Donald & Susan Sturm Professor for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.
Education, in Corrada's view, needs to move more towards processes and away from purely substantive topics. Th e problems of the world do not reside in boxes, so education needs to have a multi-disciplinary approach as well. The Conflict Resolution Institute brings together many boxes and different ideas for its students.
As he looks to the future, Corrada sees a great deal of potential
for conflict resolution practitioners to join law firms, helping them to develop and better utilize arbitration and mediation processes to the benefit of all parties involved in the conflict as well as the firm. Recent developments in this multidisciplinary practice may soon make it possible for non-lawyers to join law
firms, opening a new employment venue for graduates from CRI.
Professor Roberto Corrada can be reached at email@example.com.
-- Autumn Gorman