Thursday, November 8, 2018

Harvard Law School Negotiators Expanding ADR Opportunities for Students

This past year brought a flurry of activity and excitement for members of Harvard Law School Negotiators, led by Brady Bender ’18, Yoonie Han ’18, Brayden Koslowsky ’19, Michael Kucharski ’19, and Jacob Stoller ’18. HLS Negotiators, a student practice organization, provides students with opportunities to refine their skills in alternative dispute resolution. By partnering with organizations confronting conflict challenges and learning from successful practitioners, HLS Negotiators makes dispute resolution work more accessible to students both during and after law school.

Throughout the year, organization members worked with real-world clients to provide advice and train others in negotiation and ADR skills. A team of students provided research and consultation for the New Hampshire Judicial Branch’s Office of Mediation and Arbitration, “[This project] gave a unique chance to me, as a young practitioner, to contribute to the future use of mediation in an entire state,” noted Alexey Bardin LLM ’18, one of the project’s team members. Another team partnered with Harvard Divinity School students to write a simulation around negotiation in religious contexts. Participants in the simulation took on roles in a particular context: a hospital chaplain communicating with and providing comfort to a patient’s family members who disagree about the right way forward. Lastly, a group of ten students focused on negotiation and conflict management skills for youth. Their work served two clients: 1) one team delivered a training to high school students at Community Charter School of Cambridge (and included in their training a self-written simulation related to active listening and restorative justice practices); and 2) a second team delivered a curriculum to Bethany Birches Camp, to help them train their staff in managing conflict amongst their young campers.

Talks by ADR practitioners and experts brought home the rigors and opportunities of a career in ADR.. In the spring, HLS Negotiators brought sports agent and expert negotiator Ron Shapiro ’67 to campus. “It was an incredible privilege to host Ron Shapiro—a giant in the field of sports negotiations and negotiation education,” said Brayden Koslowsky ’19 of the event. “In his work, writing, and outlook on life, [Shapiro] provides students, and especially Negotiators members, with an outstanding example of how to negotiate, build relationships, and engage a challenging, meaningful career.” This fall, visiting professor Jennifer Reynolds ’07 engaged organization members in critiquing, and responding to critiques of, ADR with a dinner workshop entitled “Challenging and Improving ADR Norms.” Matt Waldman, founding Director of the Center for Empathy in International Affairs, shared lessons from his career negotiating in the context of high-stakes international conflicts at a fall lunch talk. Stacie Smith, Senior Mediator and Director of Workable Peace at the Consensus Building Institute, taught members about how to manage multi-party mediations and shared her experience in the trenches of large group dispute resolution.

In all its work, HLS Negotiators acts on a mission to expand ADR opportunities on campus and put into practice the interest-based dispute resolution skills taught at HLS. In doing so, the organization helps prepare a new generation of lawyers with the collaborative mindsets and the skills to resolve disputes outside the courtroom.