Updated December 1, 2012: For the most current news about this project, click here.
People have always had alternative dispute resolution practices, even before we came up with that mouthful of a name, notes William Nix, managing director of the new Dispute Resolution Project at the Straus Institute of Pepperdine University.
“It goes back to tribal days,” he says. But since then, many legal systems and procedures make settling differences cumbersome, inefficient and polarizing.
The new project will focus on entertainment, media and sports – industries which already have some successful non-judicial models, like the MPAA ratings board and the Writers Guild credit arbitration system.
Could the project make the WGA credit system better, or air it out a bit? After all, it’s fraught with controversy inside the guild. “We’d bring in people who present both perspectives. Is there a way to have more openness? More apportionment? We could help them explore.”
In its first stages, the project will provide a discussion for issues like this one. As it matures it may develop into a full-fledged institute, able to take on larger policy issues from a neutral perspective.
“I’ve been involved in the entertainment, media and sports worlds for many years,” reflects Nix, who served at the MPAA for 15 years. “Best practices are now veering toward arbitration and mediation, which are highly underrated.”
Special question for Cultural Weekly readers: What areas would you like to see the Straus Institute approach in the coming year? They welcome people reaching out to them.
Image: Universal Studios president Ron Meyer addresses a Pepperdine forum in 2011.