Professor Welsh Receives Texas Bar Foundation Outstanding Law Journal Article Award

March 12, 2018

Nancy-Welsh-wProfessor Nancy A. Welsh, winner of the 2018 Texas Bar Foundation Outstanding Law Journal Article Award

The Texas Bar Foundation selected Texas A&M University School of Law Professor Nancy A. Welsh as the 2018 recipient of its Outstanding Law Journal Article Award.

Welsh's article, “Do You Believe in Magic?: Self-Determination and Procedural Justice Meet Inequality in Court Connected Mediation,” was published in the SMU Law Review in 2017. Welsh is the first Texas A&M Law faculty member to receive this award. Welsh will be presented the award at Texas Bar Foundation's annual dinner ​held this June in Houston.

Each year the Texas Bar Foundation honors an author—lawyer or non-lawyer—for an outstanding article published in a Texas law review. A committee, appointed by the Chair of the Fellows of the Texas Bar Foundation, selects an article that relates to the legal profession, the practice of law or substantive law as applied to the practice of law. The award recipient receives a plaque and $1,000 is paid to the scholarship fund of the law school publishing the article.

Cindy V. Tisdale, Chair of the Texas Bar Foundation Board of Trustees, said, “The organization receives numerous nominations for every category of awards, including Outstanding Law Review Article. The committee carefully reads and discusses each article before voting on the recipient. All of the law review articles that were submitted were outstanding, and each had the potential to be named the Outstanding Law Review Article.”

“I am thrilled and honored to have my article recognized in this way by the Texas Bar Foundation. I’m very pleased to learn that this distinguished group of Texas lawyers found the article interesting and useful,” Welsh said.

Welsh, a professor of law and ​director of the Aggie Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program at Texas A&M School of Law, believes mediation is important.

“I am definitely one of the people who advocated for the institutionalization of mediation into the courts,” Welsh said. “I saw—and continue to see--mediation as a process that has the exciting potential to offer all people a respectful forum in which they can express themselves in a different and productive way, come to new understandings, and reach customized solutions to resolve their disputes,” Welsh said.

In the article, “Do You Believe in Magic?: Self-Determination and Procedural Justice Meet Inequality in Court Connected Mediation,” Welsh writes that only fools believe in magic.

“I hope that all of us have been the beneficiaries of occasional, unexpected gifts or moments of grace. But you cannot count on these moments. You cannot just institutionalize a process named ‘mediation’ with the expectation that good things automatically will happen. In fact, magicians reliably delight us with unexpected and even inexplicable results only because they work at it. They plan and practice in order to make their actions look effortless. Magic isn’t really magic,” Welsh said.

Texas A&M School of Law Professor Michael Z. Green developed and proposed ​the law review symposium on ADR and ​prejudice held at SMU Dedman School of Law in February 2017. Green, an expert in workplace law and dispute resolution explained, “I invited Nancy Welsh, who was a law professor at Penn State at the time, to participate in that symposium." The SMU Law Review published Welsh's article in their 2017 symposium edition in the fall, after she became a member of the Texas A&M Law faculty.

"This represents another one of her great scholarly contributions to the dispute resolution field," Green said of Welsh's award.

Welsh’s “Do You Believe in Magic” article leaves readers with many mediation ideas to contemplate.

Welsh ​explains, “My article ends by suggesting the following reforms to make it more likely that mediation will provide all people—including those who are marginalized—with the ‘magic’ that comes with voice and a real opportunity to arrive at their own voluntary outcomes:

  • increasing the inclusivity of the pool of mediators;
  • training all mediators to acknowledge and address implicit bias;
  • training mediators to engage in pre-mediation caucusing that focuses on developing trust;
  • institutionalizing systems for feedback and quality assurance;
  • training mediators to model reflective listening;
  • adopting online technology that provides parties with the pre-mediation information they need to engage in informed decision-making, self-analysis and self-reflection; and
  • perhaps even identifying additional areas of mediation practice in which mediators would be required to take affirmative steps to avoid unconscionable unfairness or coercion.”

See Texas Bar Foundation's press release about awarding Welsh the Outstanding Law Journal Article Award.

- Article by Tyra Kelly, Communications Specialist, Texas A&M University School of Law