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Straus Institute Ranked Number One In Dispute Resolution For NINth Consecutive Year

The Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution builds on its 25-year history and continues to top the U.S. News & World Report rankings as the number one dispute resolution program for the ninth consecutive year.

Pepperdine School of Law's Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution was recently ranked the number one dispute resolution program by U.S. News & World Report for the ninth consecutive year. The remaining schools in the Top 5 for 2013 are Harvard University, University of Missouri-Columbia, Hamline University, and Ohio State University.

The Straus Institute was established in 1986 as the first dispute resolution program in the Southwest. From the beginning, the institute has recruited prominent full-time faculty and practitioners to teach our courses from throughout the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Asia, and Europe.

Straus offers two tracks of training: professional training programs and academic programs in dispute resolution including the Certificate, a Master's (M.D.R.), and an LL.M. In 2004, Straus launched the Undergraduate Certificate in Conflict Management, a joint enterprise between Straus and Pepperdine's Seaver College.

More than 35 different courses in dispute resolution are offered by Straus including negotiation, mediation, arbitration, labor, entertainment dispute resolution, dispute resolution ethics, cross cultural conflict, psychology of conflict, and other areas. Courses are taught by the 10 full time Pepperdine professors, 22 local adjuncts, and 35 adjuncts and visiting faculty from around the world.

Thomas Stipanowich, academic director of the Straus Institute, William H. Webster Chair in Dispute Resolution, and professor of law, explains, "The Straus Institute enriches Pepperdine's School of Law through the nation's broadest and deepest dispute resolution curriculum. About half of all Pepperdine graduates now enhance their law school experience with courses like negotiation theory and practice that are essential to modern lawyering. In addition, Straus's outstanding master's programs bring to Pepperdine Fulbright and Muskie scholars and many other students from around the world."

Peter Robinson, managing director of the Straus Institute and associate professor of law, adds, "The staff at the Straus Institute recognizes that the rankings are a result of a lot of effort by a lot of people. The Straus Institute appreciates the support of the faculty and administration, and the dedication of countless community members as well as alumni and students. The recognition from our peers in the field is a great compliment, and we continue to feel honored by their support and faith in our program."

Robinson has dedicated more than 21 years to the Straus Institute, teaching advanced negotiation and mediation skills courses in more than 30 states and in Argentina, Canada, England, Holland, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, and Rwanda.

Stipanowich joined in 2006, bringing his own long career in dispute resolution. Serving as president and CEO of the New York-based International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution from 2001 to 2006, he helped expand the institutes operations in the EU and China and started a number of other new initiatives here and abroad, and making substantive presentations and training programs at many leading companies and law firms in the U.S. and other countries. He has extensive experience as a commercial and construction arbitrator, mediator, facilitator, and special master, with emphasis on large and complex cases. A neutral with JAMS, he has also helped develop corporate programs for avoiding or resolving disputes.

In his past six years at Pepperdine, Stipanowich has established a 60-member Council of Distinguished Advisors for the Straus Institute, helped acquire a grant to establish a new securities investor clinic, and spearheaded the acquisition of the world's leading dispute resolution collection for the Pepperdine Law Library.

Stipanowich also received the American Bar Association's prestigious D'Alemberte/Raven Award in 2008.

In 2007, Straus acquired the world's leading library from the American Arbitration Association, consisting of more than 24,000 titles. The AAA library includes titles on subjects ranging from international arbitration to consumer disputes and health law to the history and growth of public and private dispute resolution practices in the U.S. and abroad.

In recent years, Straus has launched the PACIS Project in Faith Based Diplomacy. In consultation with governments and religious leaders, the PACIS Project addresses identity-based conflicts that exceed the grasp of traditional diplomacy by combining religion with the practice of international diplomacy through an innovative model of faith-based reconciliation. Working with leaders in policymaking circles, foreign ministries, national security agencies, religious denominational communities, and humanitarian non-governmental organizations, the project has already brought about tangible fruit in the United States, Sudan, Kashmir, and recently in the Arab and Israeli spheres of influence.

Since 1995, Straus has enrolled Fulbright scholars from around the world in addition to Muskie Fellows and Weinstein International Fellows.

School of Law Dean Deanell Reece Tacha notes, "The Pepperdine School of Law is privileged to be the home of the number one ranked Straus Institute where students and faculty are involved in one of the most rapidly developing areas in the law. The legal profession and society at large are turning increasingly to various forms of alternative dispute resolution to address some of the most difficult issues of our time. Nationally and internationally the Straus Institute is known as the leader in teaching and scholarship in this area. We are so gratified by the recognition that the Straus Institute receives for its outstanding work."