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Guild Community Spotlight: James Cooper, John Hanson, Theresa Dowdy, and Robert Manning

Throughout the month of August and the first week of September, we’ll be learning about one of the key ingredients that makes Guild School special: our faculty! Check out the blog each week for interviews with instructors and inside information about their Fall Term courses.


Taught by James Cooper, John Hanson, Theresa Dowdy, and Robert Manning

Main goal of course: to understand the arbitration process and be able to determine the relative chances of success in arbitration and, most importantly, know when to settle

Who should take it: involved union members and management representatives who are looking for a thorough introduction to the grievance/arbitration process

Course style: involved discussion with guest arbitrators to bring about exposure to experts with many perspectives; with a strong dose of humor

Instructor Jim Cooper



The instruction of this course is set up a bit differently from the others. How does it work?

This course is an opportunity for students to learn by meeting and understanding the debates between arbitrators. Newly admitted labor/management lawyers will find that they will meet about a dozen or more arbitrators during the course.  In the normal course of business, this would take about five to ten years.  A retired former New England Telephone Company management representative took this course and afterwards tagged along on a few cases and then set out on his own to become a very successful arbitrator. But, this is not our goal, it simply shows the effectiveness of the course.

Each class starts with the instructors and guest speakers discussing a particular topic. Students will have an outline but the connection between the outline and the discussion is not always a straight line. In this way, students are introduced to the various topics through discussion and differences of opinion, and will  see how it evolves through questions like, “What does this language mean? How would you decide this case based on these facts? Why would you decide it that way?”


What brings each of you to this class?

I have been spearheading this class every two years since 1984. Each year, I invite guest arbitrators and now have a stellar co-faculty. Mr.  Hanson has taught along with me for the past five terms, and has also taught the Arbitration II class.  Ms. Dowdy and  Mr. Manning are new to teaching the course, and have extensive expertise in the field.  All four of us are excited to engage with  students in the class in order to bring about a worthwhile learning experience.


What kind of energy do you (plan to) bring to the class?

Humor is by and far the best teaching device you can use. I try not to take myself too seriously. The course is exciting because it is all about engagement. The instructors and guests spend time sharing war stories and arguing among themselves, which always astounds students.

There will be little or no take home reading assignments.  If there is a reading assignment and you do not get to it, that is not an issue.  We would rather have you come to class where the reading will come to life anyway.


What would you tell students thinking about taking this class?

It’s just a lot of fun. My goal is to tell you everything I know. If we can get the students to be able to return to their respective workplaces and provide others a basic understanding of the arbitration process and the likelihood of success, that’s what the course is all about.

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