The Catholic University of America

 

What will it take to get you all to agree? For LSP students, an April 7th simulated mediation exercise was a convincing glimpse of an often arduous process.

 

For Successful Mediators, the Devil is in the Details

He is an architect in late middle age, suing his employer for six million big ones over a humiliating workplace injustice…or is something else motivating him?

His boss claims that the architect is deadwood who can't keep up with changing times. What he's not saying is that he also hates him and desperately wants him gone.

The plaintiff's attorney sees a therapist for habitual procrastination. She has an unsettling history of filing motions to disqualify opposing attorneys and it's nearly gotten her disbarred. Opposing counsel is a serial womanizer scrambling for big paydays to feed his five children with three wives.

It's legal potboiler with all the makings of a long-running television series. This one, however, sprang from the fertile imagination of CUA law professor A.G. Harmon and was staged on April 7 in the Walter S. Slowinski Courtroom.

Harmon created Morgan v. Architronics, Inc. from scratch. The story is replete with believable characters that harbor hidden motivations, agendas and desires. The story line, about a 57-year old architect who sues his employer for millions over age discrimination, is festooned with lies, half-truths and double-dealing. In short, the tale is all too human.

With the help of volunteer actors from Catholic University's Drama Department, Morgan v. Architronics, Inc. was acted out over 90 minutes to help Lawyering Skills Program students understand the intricacies and difficulties of the mediation process. Gary Sloan, the head of the university's MFA acting program, and Jimmy Lawrence, a graduate student in the drama department, made special contributions to bringing Harmon's idea to life.

In the fictitious lawsuit, an appointed mediator tries to bring both sides to a mutually agreeable out-of-court settlement, no easy task given the cloaked vendettas that drive many of the story's main characters. In addition to weighing the basic facts of the case, everyone calculates how they will or won't benefit from its possible outcomes.

The actors had studied their roles carefully and offered responses to the mediator's questions and suggestions that were perfectly in line with their paper personalities.

Harmon's objective, to bring a simulated real-life mediation experience directly to law students as an educational tool, was obviously successful. It was easy to believe that one was watching an authentic proceeding.

Morgan v. Architronics, Inc. was also, as they say in the business, filmed before a live audience.