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Pepperdine | Caruso School of Law

Public Disputes Project

Launched in Fall 2013, the Public Disputes Project was established to create opportunities for local government jurisdictions to resolve conflict and train employees in mediation and dispute resolution.

With the crisis in public sector funding, mediation and other dispute resolution options are increasingly recognized as not only conducive to building collaborative government and better communities, but as an imperative efficiency. Public managers and political leaders are addressing unprecedented challenges; diminishing coffers coupled with the increasing complexity of multi-jurisdictional networks and intergovernmental dependencies create tensions ripe for collaborative solutions.

The Public Disputes Project is designed to serve the public sector and mitigate against the wasted taxpayer dollars tied up in unresolved disputes. The project will provide direct service to public-sector entities in conflict-resolution consulting services, mediation, and facilitation of large groups in conflict; provide training in dispute resolution and mediation to public sector entities; and leverage opportunities for students to participate in public sector dispute resolution.

Past projects have included the mediation of Farmers Field.

Public Disputes Project Directors

Denise Madigan has a master's degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and started her career as associate director of the Harvard-MIT Public Disputes Program, based within the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. Working closely with MIT professor Lawrence Susskind, she managed and co-mediated large multiparty cases involving state public-private partnerships and local budget priorities, and supervised other mediators on the teams.

Stephanie Blondell is Assistant Professor of Law and Assistant Director of the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law.  Prior to joining Pepperdine, Bell served as the manager of a labor-management and public policy mediation program serving a tri-county region in Seattle, Washington. Prior to entering the field of mediation, Professor Bell practiced criminal defense and was a research attorney for the Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Washington.

For public disputes, please contact the Straus Institute at 310-506-4655 or dracademics@pepperdine.edu