Michael Colatrella Jr.

Michael Colatrella

Professor of Law
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"If lawyers are to be good and valuable counselors, they need to be prepared to see legal issues and legal disputes from many perspectives in the context of all the relevant relationships ... What is needed is a sea change toward educating to create the more complete, "holistic," lawyer by cultivating not only the lawyer's reasoning ability but also the lawyer's morality, creativity, professional identity, and problem solving skills."

Recognized as being at the forefront of legal education reform, Professor Michael Colatrella is an expert in alternative dispute resolution with more than 20 years of innovative work in mediating disputes. His expertise in alternative dispute resolution includes mediation, negotiation and conflict management. He is co-author of the interdisciplinary text Mediation — Skills & Techniques, which is widely used in law schools, graduate schools, and schools of diplomacy. Professor Colatrella joined the McGeorge faculty in 2009 as an Assistant Professor of Law. He served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs from June 2015 to May 2019 and Interim Dean from July 2019 to June 2020.

Professor Colatrella's current dispute resolution scholarship focuses on improving mediator techniques and mediation processes so that self-represented litigants may participate more meaningfully and effectively. His most recent article on this topic is entitled, Informed Consent in Mediation: Promoting Pro Se Parties' Informed Settlement Choice While Honoring the Mediator's Ethical Duties, was published in the Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution. He is also developed a comprehensive online training program for The California Judiciary entitled Mediating with Self-Represented Litigants. Most recently, he is a contributor to the book Discussions in Dispute Resolution: The Formative Articles (Hinshaw, Schneider, and Cole, eds.) (Oxford Univ. Press 2021), which provides commentary and context to the most influential articles in the dispute resolution field.

Professor Colatrella is also a noted scholar on legal education. He co-developed McGeorge's innovative, required first-year course "The Legal Profession," and is a nationally sought-after contributor on legal education reform issues. He is the author of Learning "The True, the Good and the Beautiful" in Law School: Educating the Twenty-First Century Litigator, published in The University of Texas's Review of Litigation. His most recent article on pedagogy is entitled What I Learned About Teaching Law from Being an Art Student, which forthcoming in the Journal of Legal Education but available now on SSRN. You can view his "Ted- Style" talk given at the national LedgalEd conference, entitled, "What I learned about Teaching Law From Being an Art Student" that inspired the article below.


Professor Colatrella is a court-approved mediator in California, Texas, New Jersey and Kansas, and has mediated disputes involving employment contracts, commercial contracts, consumer fraud suits, personal injury, and commercial and residential leases. Professor Colatrella also educates corporate executives and business people in a wide variety of conflict management and human relations matters. He has consulted for public and private organizations such as Ericsson, Lockheed Martin, Blue Cross & Blue Shield, EDS, Alliance Data, Tenet Health Systems, Frito Lay and FEMA.

Prior to joining the faculty at McGeorge, Professor Colatrella served as Director of Southern Methodist University's Center for Dispute Resolution & Conflict Management in Dallas, Texas. Among his contributions to the Center were the development of a Master of Arts in conflict management, the establishment of a Mediation Clinic and the creation of a series of international programs. He also served as a full-time Lecturer-in-Law from 2000-05 at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law where he taught Legal Research, Writing and Advocacy.

Before pursuing a full-time academic career, Professor Colatrella was a litigator in New Jersey at Reed Smith Shaw & McClay, which is listed among The American Lawyer's top 100 law firms in the United States. He also has experience working for both trial and appellate courts. He clerked at the New Jersey Superior Court, and served an externship on the United States Court of Appeals for Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr., now Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.


BA, Rutgers University
JD, Seton Hall University
LLM, New York University

Curriculum Vitae
Research Focus


The role of the "Norm of Reciprocity" in Leading Law Schools (forthcoming)

What I Learned about Teaching Law by Being an Art Student (Forthcoming) 69 Journal of Legal Education ______ (Spring 2021);

Discussions in Dispute Resolution: The Formative Articles (Hinshaw, Schneider, and Cole, eds.) (Oxford Univ. Press, 2021) (Contributed scholarly assessment entitled “True Enough,” commenting on Professor Leonard Riskin’s seminal article, Understanding Mediator Orientations);

Learning the “True the Good and the Beautiful” in Law School: Educating the Twenty-First Century Litigator, 33 The Rev. of Litg. 741 (2014);

Informed Consent in Mediation:  Promoting Pro Se Parties’ Informed Settlement Choice While Honoring the Mediator’s Ethical Duties, 15 Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution 705 (2014);

“A Lawyer for All Seasons”: The Lawyer as Conflict Manager, 49 San Diego L. Rev. 93 (2012);

Mediation—Skills & Techniques (Lexis/Nexis 2008), (co-author with Laurence Boulle & Anthony Picchioni);

Panels and Presentations

AALS Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., Associate Deans Section, Connecting at the Crossroads: Sustaining Alliances in Tough Times, co-panelist. (January 2020).

Alternative Dispute Resolution Works-in-Progress, UNLV, William S. Boyd Law School; Leading in the Law: Negotiation, Mediation, and Collaboration as Academic Leadership Skills. (October 2019).

Appreciating our Legacy and Engaging our Future: An International Conference for Dispute Resolution Teachers, Scholars, and Leaders. Pepperdine University School of Law. Panelist on Cultures, Legal Traditions and Ethics in the Classroom. (June 2019).

National Working Group on Professional Development for Law Students, Presenter and Member on Teaching and Assessing Teamwork in Law School Courses, Holloran Center, St. Thomas Law School, Minnesota. (February 2019).

AALS Annual Meeting, New Orleans, Co-Presenter and Organizer (with Professor Jeff Proske) in the Discussion Group on Teaching Cultural Competency.  (January 2019).

Society of American Law Teachers Teaching Conference, Penn State, Instructor, Team-Based Learning Workshop. (October 2018).

Leadership in Law Schools Conference, Panelist, Leading Law Schools. Santa Clara Law School, Santa Clara, CA. (March 2018).

AALS Annual Meeting, San Diego, Co-Presenter and Organizer (with Professor Jeff Proske) in the Discussion Group on Resources used in Legal Profession Courses in Law Schools. (January 2018).

Online Training: Mediating Dispute Involving Self-Represented Parties: This is a six-hour online training video I completed in partnership with the Institute for Administrative Justice and the California Judiciary.  This training will be available to mediators throughout California. (June 2018).

AALS Annual Meeting, San Diego, Co-Presenter and Organizer (with Professor Jeff Proske) in the Discussion Group on Resources to use in Legal Profession Courses in Law Schools. (January 2018).

Nehemiah Negotiation Workshop, Sacramento Chapter, a one-day Negotiation Training for emerging leaders from diverse backgrounds. (October 2017).

National Working Group on Professional Development for Law Students, Member. Part of a group of scholars from across the country to develop learning outcomes for teaching professional development in law school. This effort has been organized by the Halloran Center at St. Thomas Law School in Minneapolis, MN. (February 2017).

Academic Partners for Peace; Israel, Participant. I was part of a group of 12 ADR scholars invited by Israel and affiliated organizations, to study the Middle East Peace Process. Over the course of seven days, our group met with government officials and grassroots peace organizers from both Israeli and Palestinian organizations.  (December 2017).