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Sheila Purcell - UC Hastings College of the Law. San Francisco, CA, US

Sheila Purcell

Director and Clinical Professor, Center for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution | UC Hastings College of the Law

San Francisco, CA, UNITED STATES

Contacts: purcells@uchastings.edu / 415-581-8940 / Office 408-100


Sheila Purcell is the Director and Clinical Professor of the Center for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution. For 16 years she designed and directed a public/private dispute resolution partnership of the San Mateo Superior Court, bar and community with civil, small claims, family, probate, complex litigation and juvenile court ADR programs and staff. She also oversaw the courts’ Jury Division and Self Help Center. In the early 1990’s she worked throughout California as the State Bar’s ADR Program Developer, received a Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs and mediated for the S.F. Mayor’s Office. She received an ABA award for organizing the first-ever national Court ADR conference. Publications include A Bench Guide to ADR along with numerous articles. She has consulted and presented nationally and in Bosnia, China, Hong Kong, Italy, India, the Netherlands, Singapore and Slovenia. She received a California Dispute Resolution Council Founder’s Award and special recognition from California’s Supreme Court Chief Justice. Her court’s ADR program was a recipient of the “Kleps” Award for Innovation. She helped launch and is one of the lead faculty for CNDR’s groundbreaking Court ADR Systems Design Institute for international judges and lawyers. She oversees the Center where each year approximately 500 students engage in a dispute resolution course and master skills through the Mediation Clinic, the Externship Program and the award winning Mediation and Negotiation Team. In 2012 US News and World Report CNDR ranked Hastings in the top ten of ADR programs nationally.





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Areas of Expertise (4)

Dispute System Design

International Court Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative Dispute Resolution Policy

Accomplishments (6)

Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Mediation (professional)


Awarded by the Mediation Society.

James Dennis Award for Justice in the Community (professional)


Awarded by the San Mateo County Bar Association.

ABA Award (professional)


Awarded by the American Bar Association for organizing the first-ever national Court ADR conference.

Kleps Award for Innovation (professional)


Awarded by California Courts

Special Recognition (professional)


Conferred by California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron George.

Founders Award (professional)


Awarded by the Californian Dispute Resolution Council.

Education (2)

University of California Santa Cruz: B.A., Social Anthropology and Environmental Studies

University of California Hastings College of the Law: J.D., Law

Affiliations (4)

  • American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution
  • California Dispute Resolution Council
  • Federal Judicial Center
  • Resolution Systems Institute

Media Appearances (4)

Meet the Masters: CNDR Panel of Bay Area Experts

UC Hastings College of the Law online  online


“Special masters handle complicated, multiparty, multistate cases where the basic causes of parties’ damages are identical but the damages themselves differ,” says Professor Sheila Purcell

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Bringing Court Mediation to Countries around the World

UC Hastings College of the Law online  online


The Center for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution’s (CNDR) one-of-a-kind Institute hosted judges, mediators and court administrators from Austria, Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Georgia, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, Poland, Rwanda, and Vietnam during a week-long intensive academic program that equips attendees with the knowledge and tools to envision, design and implement court mediation programs in their home countries.

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Professor Purcell Shares Mediation Expertise at Indian Conference

UC Hastings College of the Law online  


Sheila Purcell, Director and Clinical Professor of UC Hastings’ Center for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution, recently helped organize the inaugural ABA Asia-Pacific International Mediation Summit in New Delhi, India, co-sponsored by UC Hastings.

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Professor Sheila Purcell Promotes Alternative Dispute Resolution at Home and Abroad

UC Hastings College of the Law  online


Sheila Purcell ‘86, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Negotiation & Dispute Resolution (CNDR), has made the increased use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) her mission since she first studied the success of mediation in landlord/tenant law for her undergraduate thesis at UC Santa Cruz in 1981...

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Event Appearances (5)

Keynote Speaker

Discovery Enriched Curriculum in Action: Best Practices for Dispute Resolution Teaching and Learning  City University of Hong Kong


Co-Host and Moderator

Online Dispute Resolution 2014  UC Hastings and Stanford Law School


Event Moderator

ADRx: Innovations in Reducing and Resolving Conflict in our Communities  San Mateo, CA.



The Developmenht of Mediation Practices in India, China and Other Countries  The Mediation Society

Co-Organizer & Panelist

ABA Asia-Pacific International Mediation Summit  New Delhi, India


Selected Articles (3)

Mediators in the Field: Experiences Around the Globe

Dispute Resolution Magazine


How do courts, as systems of dispute resolution, compare in their development of court-connected mediation programs? How do practitioners in various countries lay the groundwork for a successful court-based ADR (alternative or appropriate dispute resolution) program? How do they select and train their neutrals, and how do they implement their visions and evaluate their programs? To start looking at these questions, we decided to go beyond the institutional structure of court-connected mediation programs and see what a brief survey might tell us about the perspectives and experiences of mediators themselves. The goal of our survey was to learn a bit about the mediators, the nature of their practice, the source of their referrals, and how deeply people in their communities accept mediation as a dispute resolution option. A preliminary understanding of these issues, we believe, might guide ADR policymaking and prompt future research efforts.

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Dispute System Design: A Comparative Study of India, Israel, and California

UC Hastings Research Papers


Alternative dispute resolution ("ADR") is practiced around the world with myriad approaches, though not without common ground. In an increasingly interconnected world, the sharing of this knowledge and experience has become a natural and even necessary step in the evolution of ADR. This Article compares the experience of three diverse court systems at different stages of ADR program development in Delhi, India; Tel Aviv, Israel; and San Mateo County, California. The first section briefly describes the origins of each court-annexed mediation program. The second section sets out a framework for analysis and then compares the three systems according to these analytic elements. This Article concludes with some observations on cross-cutting themes and trends for the future.

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Court Program Funding: Advice From the Trenches

Dispute Management Magazine


Funding a court ADR program takes creativity and time- and it involves going to a variety of sources that may take you in directions you never imagined. This article focuses on approaches for seeking long-term funding for staffing and operating a court ADR program.

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Courses (2)

Facilitation for Attorneys

Much of the law school curriculum is focused on advocacy and resolving disputes. Facilitation requires a different philosophical approach and a complementary set of skills. Facilitators act as neutral parties, helping groups of people to communicate and work together more effectively in situations where the focus is on learning, collaborative problem-solving and decision-making, rather than on resolving a specific dispute. Attorneys, who are used to operating as advocates, can greatly increase their effectiveness in group situations by mastering the skills of effective neutral facilitation. For many attorneys, one of the most frustrating parts of the legal profession is having to participate in endless and unproductive meetings. Attorneys can use facilitation skills to improve the efficiency and productivity of meetings by: developing meeting agendas that optimize input and minimize wasted time; intervening in ways that reduce disruptive and counter-productive behavior; and setting group norms that encourage appropriate contributions, both before and during meetings. This course is designed specifically for law students and applies facilitation to real world situations in the legal profession such as meetings of: Boards of Directors (for non-profits and for-profits); corporate shareholders; public committees and councils; co-counsel and law firm staff. Facilitation is particularly valuable in situations where developing and preserving strong, continuing working relationships is important, or where there are highly charged personal interactions, such as between birth mothers and adopting parents, between employers and employees or Unions, among heirs to an estate, or in condominium or professional associations. Students in this course will learn how to improve their personal communications skills, plan and run successful meetings, improve communication among group members, and guide effective decision-making processes.

Dispute Systems Design

This advanced course in dispute system design will broaden the student's skill set to include being able to diagnose dispute systems and recommend dispute system design approaches that go beyond traditional litigation. Lawyers' help clients shape the way various institutions (corporations, non-profits, work places, schools, and nations) manage and resolve disputes. As organizations and their leaders become conscious of the rising cost of disputes they are looking for opportunities to be more effective and efficient in the procedures they develop to address groups of conflicts. Customized approaches to dispute management have led to the evolving field of dispute system design. A small but growing number of law schools see that their students will benefit from exposure to this field. Students will be guided through the use of dispute system assessment, system design, implementation and evaluation. Topics to be developed will be how to identify the elements that can be found across dispute systems, how the goals of systems compare to the outcomes, how to seize the opportunity to create customized approaches, how various dispute system models were developed and what values they reflect. The course will also consider the implications of privatizing justice and the impact of dispute system design and control upon the broader concepts of justice. The emphasis will be on case studies that provide guiding principles for successful design, implementation and evaluation of dispute management systems. Students will also be expected to critique how and why some of these systems fall short in delivering on stated goals. Throughout the course these systems will be compared to our traditional civil and criminal justice systems. Instruction will include a dissection of complex dispute system designs in a number of areas- labor relations, courts, mass tort claims, world trade, corporations, online dispute resolution and transitional justice.