April 7, 2006 > Nepali lawyers visit School of Law to help foster mediation programs

A delegation of law faculty and public-interest lawyers from Kathmandu, Nepal, recently visited the School of Law for two weeks through a U.S. State Department exchange designed to develop mediation programs in Nepal.The visitors made presentations to law school faculty and students on community mediation, legal education and the legal profession in Nepal.

Photo by Mary Butkus
Radhika Regmi Pokharel (left), coordinator and trainer for the Community Mediation Program of the U.N. Development Program’s Mainstreaming Gender Equity Programme in Kathmandu, meets with students during a recent alternative dispute-resolution class.

In turn, the delegation received advanced mediation training and met dispute-resolution providers in the St. Louis area, including private mediators and those with the family and juvenile courts. The delegation also networked with University faculty, participated in law school classes and special events, and attended the American Bar Association Alternative Dispute Resolution Conference in Atlanta.

“In Nepal, we have been successfully implementing community mediation programs,” said Yubaraj Sangroula, executive director of the Kathmandu School of Law. “However, we gained many new ideas from the mediation programs in the U.S., which focus on consumers, juveniles and victims.

“The partnership with Washington University will bear fruits for both countries in the future.”

In addition to Sangroula, members of the delegation were:

• Sudeep Gautam, coordinator of the LL.M. Business and International Trade Law Program for Kathmandu School of Law and program coordinator of the Community Mediation Program at the Center for Legal Research and Resource Development;

• Radhika Regmi Pokharel, coordinator and trainer for the Community Mediation Program of the United Nations Development Program’s Mainstreaming Gender Equity Programme in Kathmandu; and

• Ratna Kaji Shrestha, human rights lawyer and mediation trainer for the Forum for Women, Law and Development in Kathmandu.

“The program design for our exchange visit was excellent because it gave us opportunities to both enhance our general conflict resolution skills and increase our understanding of mediation and dispute resolution in the U.S.,” Pokharel said.

“We’ve had the opportunity to visit an amazing number of agencies and programs and learn about multiple program designs and models.”

The law school’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Program, directed by Karen Tokarz, J.D., professor of law, received a three-year, $244,000 grant from the State Department to establish exchanges between the University and Kathmandu law schools and between University and civil society nongovernmental organizations in Nepal.

C.J. Larkin, J.D., administrative director of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Program, provided mediation training to the delegation and coordinated the visit. Larkin and other representatives from the School of Law will visit Nepal in June.

The State Department grant provides funding for the law school’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Program to offer intermediate and advanced conflict resolution training to Nepali faculty, students and organizations involved in community mediation. The training will be conducted both at WUSTL and in Nepal.

University faculty and students will observe Nepali mediators and receive training while in Nepal. Additionally, the law school will develop Internet dispute resolution resources for Nepali mediators.

The law school and the George Warren Brown School of Social Work have been developing partnerships with universities and nongovernmental organizations in Nepal for several years. Gautam Yadama, Ph.D., director of international programs and associate professor in the School of Social Work, began the collaborations through his U.S. Agency for International Development-funded project with Nepal Law School in 1999-2001. Yadama served as a Fulbright professor in Nepal in 2000-01.

Jane Aiken, J.D., the William M. Van Cleve Professor of Law, also served as a Fulbright senior scholar at Tribhuvan Law Campus during fall 2001. For three summers, WUSTL law students worked in Kathmandu through the public-interest stipend program, with placement assistance from Aiken and Larkin.