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


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

  1. Hi Chinwe,
    This is an excellent piece. I like the idea of referring the the Lagos Multi Door Court(LMDC) as a “Revolving Door.” That is a perfect illustration. I am a legal practitioner, based in Lagos Nigeria. From my field experience, I can’t agree less- I totally agree with you.

    At present, analysts have said that in the post Covid-19 era, the LMDC is going to take a center stage in resolution of contacts issues. Why the LMDC? Simply put: it is because of the revolving nature of its door to Justice.

    Thank you Chinwe.

    • Thank You, Kenneth, for your comment and your contribution.

  2. Hi Chinwe,
    Your expose’ on revolving door justice mechanisms is very thorough and insightful. As a matter of fact, I believe such a system will be good for industrial arbitration and job-related conflicts and will go a long way in freeing our law courts of some reasonable amount of space.
    Nice work.

    • Yes, you are right the revolving doors through the LMDC can be used to settle industrial arbitration and job-related conflicts… thank you contribution, Tony. Much appreciated.

  3. I went through this beautiful piece over and over again and I was nothing but impressed. I see a well thought out research focused on impacting, improving and sustaining the ADR alternatives as it remains crucial to resolving legitimate issues in a more conducive, polite and potent manner. This is a beautiful job and I commend the efforts of the architect. You have done well for yourself, the Nigerian ADR system and the world at large. Kudos

    • Thank you for your comment, Steve. Much appreciated.

  4. Thank U for this write up. It has given me a clue about the multi door courthouse.

    From Edukpon, Nigeria

  5. Thanks for this article, Chinwe. The title of one of your references: Frank Sander – Keep building ADR, resonates with me because ADR, globally, is still a work in progress. This is why in Nigeria, I have in collaboration with some like minds founded the Association of Multi-Door Courthouse Practitioners (ACMP) The Association seeks to bring together all accredited ADR practitioners who provide services in multi-door courthouses either as staff members or independents.
    Our one major objective is to promote multi-door courthouse practice and bring its existence to the consciousness of members of the public

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