Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Student Spotlight: Apoorva Patel ’13

HNMCP: What sparked your interest in the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinic Program (HNMCP)?

Apoorva Patel: When I arrived at HLS as a 1L, I knew I wanted to take advantage of the unparalleled opportunities available at the school in the field of negotiation and dispute resolution. I became involved with the Harvard Negotiation Law Review my 1L fall, and the Spring “Negotiation Workshop”proved to be the most enriching and personally rewarding course of my law school career. After these experiences I was eager to expand my learning beyond the classroom and academic contexts. HNMCP offered the chance for me to build my skills while working on real-world problems with real clients—an opportunity I saw as challenging, stimulating, and not to be passed up.

HNCMP: What surprised you about working with HNMCP?

AP: The range and depth of projects on which students in the Clinic had the opportunity to work were remarkable. Students did not merely think about hypothetical or relatively straightforward issues, but rather were trusted to tackle complex problems that were actually meaningful for the clients and impactful for their stakeholders. Moreover, students and faculty supervisors were never content to offer just the most readily apparent solutions, but instead worked hard to analyze the nuances of the issues involved and to explore how their clients might best address those challenges

HNMCP: What was your favorite part of your project?

AP: My teammates and I worked with the Chilean Ministry of Justice’s Unidades de Justicia Vecinal (“UJV”), a neighborhood multi-door courthouse program that was piloted in various districts of Santiago and was being considered for expansion nationwide. From the outset it was very motivating to work with so many individuals, as well as an institution as a whole, that had embraced the idea that legal approaches rooted in negotiation and alternative dispute resolution could be uniquely effective in resolving disputes and achieving lasting solutions. The opportunity to help the UJV program make that vision into reality on the ground for the citizens of Chile was very compelling and rewarding for me. Of course, swapping the Massachusetts winter for a taste of summertime in Santiago was a welcome trade as well!

HNMCP: What did you learn about yourself working in the Clinic, and how do you anticipate using the skills you honed in your career?

AP: While I had often worked in team settings in the past, my work in the Clinic led me to examine and build upon my personal approach to teamwork like never before. The challenges of diagnosing multifaceted problems and engaging in problem-solving as a team helped me learn about how I can best work with colleagues in environments where team members have different working styles and strengths. The skills I developed in the context of working collaboratively will certainly serve me well in the future.

In addition, my work in the Clinic was valuable preparation for a career in which understanding one’s clients, and their needs, is of the utmost importance. In the Clinic, my client was a governmental institution that had multiple layers of stakeholders and decision-makers, as well as varied interests underlying its present endeavors and future goals. It was only after taking account of all these considerations that my team could offer meaningful advice. Likewise, in legal practice I will be working with corporate or government clients in similarly complex situations and with equally diverse interests. I am confident that my experience in the Clinic will help me better understand and counsel my clients, and am grateful to have been a part of HNMCP during my time at Harvard Law School.

While at Harvard Law School, Apoorva served as editor-in-chief of the Harvard Negotiation Law Review and as president of the South Asian Law Students Association. In his project with the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program, Apoorva worked with the Chilean Ministry of Justice. He will join Hughes Hubbard & Reed in New York this fall.