A pioneer in alternative dispute resolution, The Honorable Gerard M. Shellan may be off the bench, but he continues to hear cases as a mediator and an arbitrator. He has heard more than 3750 cases, everything from marriage dissolution to construction matters, and remains one of the most sought-after mediators in the United States.
In talking to law school students from Professors Julia Gold and Alan Kirtley’s classes, he stressed the importance of mediation. Not only does mediation make the court system more efficient, but clients benefit, in time and money, from a respectful process and the successful resolution of their issues. Judge Shellan also emphasized that today’s lawyers need to understand how to prepare for mediation, as opposed to preparing for a trial.
Shellan, who graduated from the law school at Columbia University and retired after a long career on King County Superior Court, strongly believes that mediation is a critical component of the judicial system and that students need a solid foundation in the practice and principles of dispute resolution. To this end, he recently included a $250,000 bequest and a gift of real estate property in his estate plan to support arbitration and mediation education at the UW School of Law. This newest gift is in addition to the $200,000 charitable remainder unitrust he funded in 1993 to benefit the law school. For Gold, director of the Mediation Clinic, this stable funding will allow the clinic to provide services to more people in the community while giving law students important hands on experience with clients.
“Alternative dispute resolution is now an equal part of the judicial system and handles more cases than public courts,” Judge Shellan told the students. “The Mediation Clinic is giving us new lawyers who are prepared for this component of our court system.