Thursday, February 9, 2012

New Advanced Workshop on Multiparty Negotiation, Groups, and Teams

HNMCP Director Robert Bordone ’97 and HNMCP Assistant Director Rory Van Loo ’07 taught a new advanced multiparty negotiation course last semester that is the first of its kind at Harvard Law School to emphasize teams and groups. In the course, twenty-four students worked on their multiparty skills through in-class exercises, case studies, video reviews, and a semester-long consulting project. “Because multiparty negotiations, teams and groups are everywhere, important, and challenging, we wanted to give students the opportunity to improve the negotiation skills they learned in the basic negotiation workshop and also to learn new skills specific to multiparty settings,” said Bordone.

A central part of practicing those skills came through a team consulting project for U.S. Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Ronald Weich on the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.  In January 2012, four students will travel to Washington, D.C. along with Bordone to advise Assistant Attorney General Weich on negotiations regarding the President’s discretion on how to deal with Guantanamo detainees. The students themselves selected the final team to travel to D.C. and will manage the presentation in D.C. on their own, but they had help along the way. In November 2011 the six original student teams presented to faculty panels that included Noah Feldman ’92, Jody Freeman ’91 LLM ’95 S.JD, Gerald Neuman ’80, and Carol Steiker ’82 AB ’86 JD, along with Bordone and Van Loo. This faculty panel provided coaching and narrowed the field from six to four teams.

Said Grant Strother ’12, a member of the final HLS team selected by the class to travel to Washington, D.C., “The Guantanamo consulting project was a great opportunity to apply the concepts we learned throughout the course, from developing our project groups into effective teams to applying multiparty negotiation strategies to a complex real-world problem. Week to week, the course was an exciting mix of strategy and practice. The consulting project added an extra layer of significance that few courses offer. It is really exciting and a great honor for our team to represent the class in presenting our recommendations to Assistant Attorney General Weich.”

The class itself was the result of months of HNMCP teamwork. As early as January of 2011 former HNMCP Associate Tobias Berkman ’10 began researching possible exercises, surveying literature in the field, and putting together course materials. Clinical Instructors Jeremy McClane ’02 and Chad Carr ’06 wrote and edited cases used in the workshop, including three facilitation simulations that were videotaped.

Students appear to have appreciated what resulted from all of this HNMCP teamwork. As Krista deBoer ’12 put it, “The multiparty course prepared me for aspects of lawyering that other courses leave completely untouched; it was one of the most challenging and important classes I’ve taken in law school.”

Caption: Multiparty class during “mocktail” party to negotiate “Fastskin”, a simulated negotiation case between swimmers, their agents, and the company that has manufactured a new competitive swimsuit.