Course and Career Planning

Students interested in a focus on problem-solving approaches to lawyering, including alternative methods of dispute resolution, should consider taking as many courses directly related to negotiation, problem-solving, and dispute resolution a possible during their time at Harvard Law School.

The introductory course in problem-solving and ADR is the Negotiation Workshop (offered during the January and Spring semesters). The Negotiation Workshop presents a basic overview of the theory and practice of negotiation, with a special emphasis on skills development. As the introductory course in this area, it does not have a substantive (e.g. environmental, corporate, international, public interest, etc.) legal focus. Instead, simulations in the course cover a broad range of both dispute resolution and transactional contexts, from real estate to labor negotiations to family law. Students are exposed to the research and theory of negotiation and dispute resolution from a variety of disciplines as they practice and develop their analytical and interpersonal negotiations skills. Students planning to take only one course in ADR are encouraged to take the Negotiation Workshop. Students with a more focused interest in this area of practice are encouraged to take the Negotiation Workshop as early as possible during their time at the Law School (preferably in the spring of their first year) in order to maximize their ability to take other advanced negotiation-related classes that list the Negotiation Workshop as a prerequisite.

Upon completion of Negotiation Workshop, the school provides a number of different opportunities for students to continue their work in ADR.

For those who hope to practice the skills and concepts acquired in the Negotiation Workshop, we recommend the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinic.

For those who would like to deepen their theoretical understanding of the field, there are several advanced courses in Negotiation, each dealing with a focused domain: “Dispute Systems Design”; “The Lawyer as Facilitator”; and “Advanced Negotiation: Multiparty Negotiation, Group Decision Making, and Teams”. In addition, the advanced negotiation course “International Negotiation” and “Advanced Negotiation: Deal Design” are periodically offered.

In addition to courses focusing on negotiation, law students interested in ADR can also take “Mediation” and “International Investment Arbitration”.

Outside of the classroom, the law school supports non-curricular student-run organizations dedicated to ADR. These include Harvard Negotiators, the Harvard Mediation Program, and the Harvard Negotiation Law Review.

Beyond the slate of courses and extracurricular activities offered at the Law School, we encourage students to consider selecting from specialty courses in negotiation and conflict resolution offered at the Program on Negotiation consortium schools, particularly courses at Harvard Business School, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts, and the Kennedy School of Government. Students can find a partial listing of dispute resolution and negotiation courses offered at other schools here.

Students should also seek out additional classes that will help them build a strong, interdisciplinary skill-set. Student course selection should include those that will build the skills central to the role of a problem-solving lawyer. Many of the courses noted above are interdisciplinary in nature and focus on economics, client-counseling, psychology, values, and interpersonal skills.

Descriptions of all HLS courses can be found in the online catalog.

Recommended courses related to problem solving and dispute resolution:

Access to Civil Justice
Administrative Law
Analytical Methods for Lawyers
Anatomy of a Mass Tort
Behavioral Economic and Public Policy
Business Strategy for Lawyers
Challenges of General Counsel
Decision Making and Leadership in the Public Sector
Dispute Systems Design
Employment Law
Federal Courts and the Federal System
Global Law and Governance
International Investment Arbitration
International Trade Law
Judgment and Decision-Making
Law and Psychology: The Emotions
Laws of War
Mediation
Natural Resources Law
Public Problems: Advice, Strategy, Analysis
The Lawyer as Facilitator