The Center for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution (CNDR) has a longstanding relationship with the ADR Program at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), having trained numerous administrative law judges through CNDR’s mediation trainings. In 2023, the CPUC took on its first dispute resolution-focused extern within its Pilot ADR Program, welcoming Alexis Ballinger, ’23, to observe mediations and work on policies and procedures which impact parties using the Program’s mediation services.  

During her externship at the CPUC, Alexis learned about the intricacies of a government agency responsible for regulating a broad spectrum of industries, ranging from electric and natural gas to telecommunications and rail transit.  

The primary focus of Alexis’s externship was the development of a resolution and guidelines to establish the CPUC’s Pilot ADR Program as a permanent fixture. The Program has extended dispute resolution services to more than 275 matters, boasting an impressive success rate exceeding 76%. “One of the most enriching aspects of my externship,” Alexis observed, “was gaining a firsthand understanding of the complexities of the mediation process. This encompassed comprehending the various mediation styles in use and the extensive preparation required for each mediation session. Witnessing mediators’ meticulous planning and adaptability underscored the importance of forging my own mediation style while remaining open to innovative techniques to suit the unique needs of each dispute.”  

Reflecting on her experience, Alexis noted the instrumental role CNDR’s reputation and community partnerships played in shaping her journey, and how the work reaffirmed her passion for ADR and commitment to ongoing learning and development. “I am eagerly looking forward to applying the knowledge and skills I have acquired to future opportunities in dispute resolution.” 

After graduation, Alexis accepted a Legal Services Funders Network Fellowship working with Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ).