Facilitation Workshop: Leading Challenging Conversations in Business, Politics, and the Community

Lawyers facilitate. We routinely handle matters that require us to lead groups of people to work together in order to solve problems, reach decisions, and resolve conflicts. We collaborate with clients and colleagues to develop legal strategies, negotiate complex deals, build consensus on policy proposals, and coordinate with colleagues around duties and responsibilities. We may work with community stakeholders, multiple family members, or local officials to increase understanding, resolve a dilemma, or re-build trust. And facilitation is not limited to legal practice – entrepreneurs, consultants, public officials, for-profit and non-profit executives alike facilitate. Yet despite how integral this work is to the modern workplace, few lawyers or other professionals receive training in how to organize, run, and effectively facilitate gatherings of people—especially when there are strong emotions involved.

This 4-credit workshop introduces students to the theory and practice of facilitation, both in traditional legal as well as non-legal contexts. It provides opportunities for students to develop the skills necessary to run effective meetings, work with people in conflict, lead group problem-solving efforts, and more. Like the Law School’s Negotiation Workshop, this Workshop will integrate intellectual and experiential learning by combining readings, lectures, and discussions with frequent exercises, extensive review, live and filmed examples, individual and small group reviews, and careful analysis of the facilitation process and the process of learning from experience. In addition to traditional facilitation skills, we will explore thorny questions of power, inclusion, emotions, and identity.

This seminar meets in the Fall of 2020 on Wednesdays, 1:00–5:00pm. A full schedule will be given at the first class. Attendance at all sessions is mandatory in order to accommodate various group exercises and simulations.

Pre-requisite: Negotiation Workshop

Exam Type: No Exam

Enrollment will be limited to 12 students, selected by application. To be considered for admission to the Facilitation Workshop, we ask you to submit a resume and a narrative statement of interest, no longer than one page, to Tracy Blanchard. You will be notified before the elective registration begins if you have been admitted into the Workshop.

The statement of interest should succinctly explain:

  • why you are interested in participating in the Facilitation Workshop;
  • what you hope to learn;
  • what you hope to contribute; and
  • how you hope engaging in the Facilitation Workshop material will advance your professional interests.