An Interview with Prof Frank Sander on the Multi-Door Courthouse Mechanism.

Professor Frank Sander.

The Pound paper presentation in 1906 on “The causes of popular dissatisfaction with the Administration of Justice” at the Association annual meeting in St Paul exposed so many problems with the administration of justice in America.

However, after about Seventy (70) years of the Roscoe Pound Conference, the problem lingered on or still persisted. Hence, in this same venue, where Pound presented his paper, Prof Frank Sander (founder of the Multi-Door Courthouse) was invited to proffer a solution to the problems in 1976. It is essential to point out that the conference sparked the initial block of wide-ranging  ADR experimentation.

Prof Sander, during an interview with Mariana, narrated how he had a hurry-up education for three months and gave this talk in St. Paul called “Varieties of Dispute Processing. Subsequently, “after the conference, one of the ABA [American Bar Association] publications had an article about this talk. On the cover, they had a whole bunch of doors, and they called it the multi-door courthouse. I had given it a much more academic name, the comprehensive justice centre. Still, so often, the label you give an idea depends a lot on the dissemination and the popularity of the concept. So, I am indebted to the ABA for having this catchy name—multi-door courthouse. Now, I should explain a little bit about the idea, whatever you want to call it. MDC is a simple idea… The idea is to look at different forms of dispute resolution—mediation, arbitration, negotiation, and med-arb (a blend of mediation and arbitration.”

Flowing from the above, the focal point is that it does not matter whatever name one decides to call the multi-door courthouse. So far, one understands that the ‘revolving door mechanisms’ as this blogger chooses to call it, comprises arbitration, mediation, negotiation etc. And can be accessed through the courthouse with its ‘strong root’ firmly rooted in party autonomy. This means that parties can make ‘concessions’ or ‘compromises’ as they dim fit or want and can draft their Terms of settlement (TOS) under the supervision or guidance of a ‘neutral party’ called the ‘mediator’. This TOS can be enforced as a consent judgement by a judge in a regular court.



In summary, ‘revolving door mechanisms’  are employed by a neutral party in an informal or formal process to settle disputes or conflicts between two or more parties in a bid to find a peaceful solution.  Essentially this has ‘helped’ the justice system in different jurisdictions -in the developed economies, particularly America and in the developing economies like Nigeria, to dispense justice swiftly. Thus, has restored trust, hope, belief, and confidence of the litigants/ disputants in the judicial system. 


James R. Hagerty, Frank Sander Boosted Mediation and Other Ways to Solve Disputes Out of Court (The Wall Street Journal 2018) 

  Levin Russell, Wheeler, A.Leo (ed)  The Pound Conference Perspectives on Justice in the Future (West Publishing Co. St Paul Minnesota 1979) p. 14

Frank Sander, Keep building ADR (Alternatives to the high cost of litigation-Wiley online library 2009 p.9website: <> accessed 20th April 2020

Sander & Mariana Hernandez Crespo, A Dialogue Between Professors Frank Sander and Mariana Hernandez Crespo the Evolution of the Multi-Door Courthouse, 5 U. St. Thomas L.J. (2008) p.667