Donna Shestowsky


Position Title
Martin Luther King Jr. Professor of Law and Director of the Lawyering Skills Education Program

2135 King Hall

Donna Shestowsky is Professor of Law and Director of the Lawyering Skills Education Program at the University of California, Davis, School of Law. She is also a faculty member of the Graduate Group in Psychology at UC Davis. She teaches Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), Advanced Negotiation and Client Counseling, Criminal Law, Lawyering Process, Negotiation Strategy, and the Seminar in Legal Psychology. Her main research objective is to examine basic assumptions underlying the structure of the legal system and to explore ways in which the legal system might be improved using the methodological and analytic tools of psychological theory and research.

Dr. Shestowsky was the sole principal investigator of a multi-year research project, funded by the National Science Foundation and the American Bar Association, which examined how litigants evaluate legal procedures. One article based on this work was awarded the 2016 Mangano Dispute Resolution Advancement Award; another article was awarded the Best Article of 2018 in the field of dispute resolution from the AALS Section on Alternative Dispute Resolution. She currently serves as principal investigator for a study of online dispute resolution procedures in state courts.

Dr. Shestowsky's legal and psychological commentary has appeared in national sources such as CNN, NPR, and the New York Times. She advises courts in the development of court-connected ADR programs and provides negotiation education services to corporations, law firms, and national organizations. She also coaches the King Hall Negotiation team, which routinely places at the nationals in the ABA’s negotiation and client counseling competitions and ranked first in the world in the international law student negotiations competition. She was the 2007 recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.

Her research has been published in top journals in both Psychology and Law, including the Stanford Law Review, Law and Human Behavior, and the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. She is dedicated to helping legal practitioners make use of empirical research. To that end, she also publishes in journals with broader audiences, such as Court Review and Dispute Resolution Magazine.

Dr. Shestowsky was awarded a J.D. and Ph.D. in Psychology from Stanford University. During the 2003-2004 academic year, she was jointly appointed to the faculty at Northwestern University School of Law and the Kellogg School of Management. She was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 2004. She was elected as a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation in 2021, and currently serves as Chair-Elect of the Association of American Law Schools’ Section on Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Education and Degree(s)
  • B.S. Psychology, Yale University
  • M.S. Psychology, Yale University
  • J.D. Stanford University
  • Ph.D. Psychology, Stanford University
Honors and Awards
  • American Bar Foundation Fellow (elected 2021).
  • Chair-elect of AALS Section on Alternative Dispute Resolution (2021).
  • Best Article in the Field of Dispute Resolution (Best Article of 2018), AALS Section on Alternative Dispute Resolution (2019).
  • Faculty Development Award, University of California, Davis (2018-19) .
  • Mangano Dispute Resolution Advancement (“Best Paper”) Award, Hugh L. Carey Center for Dispute Resolution (2016).
  • Ninth Circuit ADR Education Award (on behalf of University of California, Davis, School of Law) (2014).
  • Distinguished Teaching Award, Nominee, University of California, Davis, School of Law (2006 & 2014).
  • Distinguished Teaching Award, University of California, Davis, School of Law (2007).
Research Interests & Expertise
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Juries
  • Negotiation Strategy
  • Change of Venue Surveys
Membership and Service
  • The Psychology of Litigants Project - sole principal investigator for longitudinal study of how litigants evaluate legal procedures, sponsored by the National Science Foundation
  • “When Ignorance is not Bliss: Litigants' Awareness of Court-Sponsored ADR Programs,” Keynote, Santa Clara-Stanford Law School Dispute Resolution Workshop, Stanford, March 2018.
  • “When Ignorance is not Bliss: Litigants' Awareness of Court-Sponsored ADR Programs,” Invited presentation, Northern California ADR Faculty Conference, San Francisco, February 2018.
  • “ADR and Access to Justice: Current Perspectives,” Panel presentation, Association of American Law Schools Annual Meeting, San Diego, January 2018.
  • “Arbitrator Advertising and Disclosures.” Panel presentation, Sacramento Bar Association ADR Section, Sacramento, June 2017.
  • “When ‘Yes’ Means ‘No’: Rethinking Informed Consent to Dispute Resolution Procedures.” Panel presentation, American Bar Association Section on Dispute Resolution Spring Conference, San Francisco, April 2017.
  • “When Ignorance is not Bliss: Litigants' Awareness of Court-Sponsored ADR Programs.” Panel presentation, American Bar Association Section on Dispute Resolution Spring Conference, San Francisco, April 2017.
  • “Promoting Better Access to Justice: What Action Items Should be Considered and by Whom.” Panel presentation, Global Pound Conference, San Francisco, February 2017.
  • “Teaching Viking Investments.” Webinar, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, January 2017.
  • “Issue Resolution Process Design: Lessons from Psychology and Law.” Invited presentation, Mental Health Oversight and Accountability Commission, Sacramento, August 2016.
  • “Psychology of Negotiation.” Invited presentation, Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, Specialized Institute on Energy, University of California, Davis, July 2016.
  • “The Psychology of Negotiation.” Invited presentation, Kilpatrick, Townsend and Stockton LLP, Atlanta, GA, June 2016.
  • “What Does Recent Research Tell Us About Court ADR?” Panel presentation, American Bar Association Section on Dispute Resolution Spring Conference, New York City, April 2016.
  • “Making Use of the Behavioral Sciences: Practical Implications for Mediators,” Invited presentation, Mediation Roundtable, Nixon Peabody LLP, San Francisco April 2016.
  • “The Psychology of Procedural Preference: How Litigants Evaluate Legal Procedures Ex Ante.” Invited presentation, Herrick Feinstein LLP, New York City, March 2016.
  • “The Psychology of Procedural Preference: How Litigants Evaluate Legal Procedures Ex Ante,” Invited presentation. St. John’s University, School of Law, New York City, March 2016.
  • “Mediation? Negotiation? Arbitration? Trial?: Highlights from the First Multi-jurisdiction Study of Litigants' Preferences.” Invited presentation, Appellate Mediation Half-Day Conference, Judicial Counsel of California, Sacramento, September 2015.
  • “Litigant Psychology: How Litigants Evaluate Legal Procedures.” Webinar presentation, American Arbitration Association, June 2015.


Donna Shestowsky,  How Useful is Court ADR if People (Still) Don’t Know About it?, in Discussions in Dispute Resolution: The Foundational Articles  (Hinshaw, Schneider, and Cole, eds., 2021).

Donna Shestowsky,  Great Expectations? Comparing Litigants’ Attitudes Before and After Using Legal Procedures, 44  Law and Human Behavior   179 (2020),  DOI: 10.1037/lhb0000370

Mara Olekalns, Donna Shestowsky, Sylvia P. Skratek & Ann-Sophie de Pauw, The Double Helix of Theory and Practice Celebrating Stephen J. Goldberg as a Scholar, Practitioner, and Mentor, Negotiation and Conflict Management Research (2019), DOI: 10.1111/ncmr.12146.

Deborah Goldfarb, Sidnei Priolo-Filho, Janelle Sampana, Donna Shestowsky, Lucia C. A. Williams & Gail S. Goodman, International Comparison of Family Court Professionals’ Perceptions of Parental Alienation and Child Sexual Abuse Allegations, International Journal on Child Maltreatment: Research, Policy and Practice (2019), DOI: 10.1007/s42448-019-00033-6.

Sidnei Priolo-Filho, Deborah Goldfarb, Donna Shestowsky, Janelle Sampana, Lucia C. A. Williams & Gail S. Goodman, Judgments Regarding Parental Alienation When Parental Hostility or Child Sexual Abuse is Alleged, Journal of Child Custody (2019), DOI: 10.1080/15379418.2018.1544531.

Ellen E. Deason, Michael Z. Green, Donna Shestowsky, Rory Van Loo, Ellen Waldman, ADR and Access to Justice: Current Perspectives, 33 Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution 303 (2018).

Donna Shestowsky, Inside the Mind of the Client: An Analysis of Litigants’ Decision Criteria for Choosing Procedures, 36 Conflict Resolution Quarterly 69 (2018).

Donna Shestowsky, Easing the Road to Civil Justice: Improving Litigants’ Awareness of ADR Options 54 Court Review 142 (2018).

Donna Shestowsky, When Ignorance is Not Bliss: An Empirical Study of Litigants' Awareness of Court-Sponsored Alternative Dispute Resolution Programs, 22  Harv. Negot. L. Rev. 189 (2017).

Jonni L. Johnson, Sue D. Hobbs, Yoojin Chae, Gail S. Goodman, Donna Shestowsky & Stephanie Block, “I Didn’t Do That!”: Event Valence and Child Age Influence Adults’ Discernment of Preschoolers’ True and False Statements, J. of Interpersonal Violence (2017), DOI: 10.1177/0886260517736276.

Pietro Ortolani & Donna Shestowsky, Disputant Psychology: What Can a Comparison with Domestic Arbitration Teach Us? in International Arbitration, in The Roles of Psychology in International Arbitration (Tony Cole ed.) (2017).

Donna Shestowsky, The Psychology of Negotiation: Using Persuasion to Negotiate More Effectively, in The Negotiator's Desk Reference (Andrea Kupfer Schneider & Christopher Honeyman eds.) (2017).

Donna Shestowsky, How Litigants Evaluate the Characteristics of Legal Procedures: A Multi-Court Empirical Study, 49 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 793 (2016).

Donna Shestowsky, Mediation? Negotiation? Arbitration? Trial?: A Multicourt Study Looks at Litigants' Preferences, Disp. Resol. Mag., Summer 2015.

Donna Shestowsky, How Litigants Evaluate Legal Procedures at the Start of Their Cases, 50 Ct. Rev. 126 (2014).

Donna Shestowsky, The Psychology of Procedural Preference: How Litigants Evaluate Legal Procedures Ex Ante, 99 Iowa L. Rev. 637 (2014).

Stephanie D. Block, Donna Shestowsky, Daisy A. Segovia, Gail S. Goodman, Jennifer M. Schaff & Kristen W. Alexander, That Never Happened: Adults’ Discernment of Children’s True and False Memory Reports, 36 Law & Hum. Behav. 365 (2012).

Lee Ross & Donna Shestowsky, Two Social Psychologists’ Reflections on Situationism and the Criminal Justice System, in Ideology, Psychology, and Law 612 (Jon Hanson ed., 2011).

Donna Shestowsky, An Evaluation of the Ventura Superior Court Small Claims Mediation Program (2011) (limited distribution report).

Donna Shestowsky & Jeanne Brett, Disputants’ Perceptions of Dispute Resolution Procedures: An Ex Ante and Ex Post Longitudinal Empirical Study, 41 Conn. L. Rev. 63 (2008).

Donna Shestowsky, Disputants’ Preferences for Dispute Resolution: Why We Should Care and Why We Know So Little, 23 Ohio St. J. on Disp. Resol. 549 (2008).

Donna Shestowsky, Misjudging: Implications for Dispute Resolution, 7 Nev. L. J. 487 (2007).

Donna Shestowsky, Dispute Resolution, Psychology of, in Encyclopedia of Law and Society: American and Global Perspectives (David S. Clark ed., 2007).

Donna Shestowsky, Psychology and Persuasion, in The Negotiator’s Fieldbook 361 (Andrea Kupfer Schneider & Christopher Honeyman eds., 2006).

Janice Nadler & Donna Shestowsky, Negotiation, Information Technology, and the Problem of the Faceless Other, in Negotiation Theory and Research 145 (Leigh L. Thompson ed., 2006).

Donna Shestowsky, Procedural Preferences in Alternative Dispute Resolution: A Closer, Modern Look at an Old Idea, 10 Psychol. Pub. Pol’y & L. 211 (2004).

Donna Shestowsky & Leonard M. Horowitz, How the Need for Cognition Scale Predicts Behavior in Mock Jury Deliberations, 28 Law & Hum. Behav. 305 (2004).

Donna Shestowsky, Improving Summary Jury Trials: Insights from Psychology, 18 Ohio St. J. on Disp. Resol. 469 (2003).

Lee Ross & Donna Shestowsky, Contemporary Psychology’s Challenges to Legal Theory and Practice, 97 Nw. U. L. Rev. 1081 (2003).

Franklin Strier & Donna Shestowsky, Profiling the Profilers: A Study of the Trial Consulting Profession, Its Impact on Trial Justice and What, if Anything, to Do About It, 1999 Wis. L. Rev. 441 (1999).

Donna Shestowsky, Where is the Common Knowledge? Empirical Support for Requiring Expert Testimony in Sexual Harassment Trials, 51 Stan. L. Rev. 357 (1999).

Donna Shestowsky, Duane T. Wegener & Leandre R. Fabrigar, Need for Cognition and Interpersonal Influence: Individual Differences in Impact on Dyadic Decisions, 74 J. of Personality & Soc. Psychol. 1317 (1998).