The Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP) connects Harvard Law School students with client organizations—not-for-profits, government agencies, community groups, corporations, etc.—facing real world challenges that would benefit from strategic negotiation or conflict management advice, or dispute resolution system evaluation and design. Our students, trained in both the theory and practice of dispute resolution, exercise their skills and knowledge on behalf of their clients and receive academic course credit for their work. A faculty supervisor regularly meets with the students for updates and consultation.
Clinical projects may span a wide range of substantive contexts. Some sample project ideas include the following:
- Helping to develop a strategy to facilitate stakeholder discussions of important but potentially contentious issues;
- Devising a negotiation strategy to mobilize community members towards some sort of social change or anticipated threat to community life;
- Conducting a conflict assessment that will map out various parties in a dispute, their interests, possible strategies, and potential barriers to consensus around a certain issue;
- Setting up an internal dispute resolution system to help employees better manage and resolve disputes that arise in the workplace;
- Preparing a research report with prescriptive advice for some upcoming, perhaps even unscheduled, negotiation;
- Mediation of an existing conflict.
Examples of past projects include providing a New York City Council member with strategic negotiation advice in a multiparty dispute over real estate development, working with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to evaluate and develop strategies to strengthen its Dispute Resolution Service, and helping to foster reconciliation between estranged members of the Roman Catholic Church and the Archdiocese of Boston
For a fuller sense of the types of projects in which we engage, please search Our Projects.
Our clients typically have a dispute management problem or challenge in mind, and subsequently work with our clinical staff well in advance of the semester to develop that idea into a concrete project. Projects should both clarify a ‘question presented’ and envision an obvious ‘deliverable’ (e.g. high quality research, analysis or recommendations on how to proceed with a particular problem).
Though we do not charge fees for our services, we do ask that clients designate one point-person within the organization as the client-supervisor, who can facilitate the project and provide our students with direction and feedback, as well as access to the necessary information, contacts, and advice that they need to do a professional job.
Students spend 10 to 20 hours per week on their projects, depending on their credit load. We ask clients to recognize that students are taking as many as three other courses concurrently with their HNMCP project. During the project, students work on campus, although at least one or two site visits are common during a project in order to collect data and/or to present findings.
All of the professional obligations incumbent on attorneys in Massachusetts apply to our students.
Projects must fit into either Harvard Law School’s fall semester (early September to early December) or spring semester (late January to early May). If projects are more ambitious than what might reasonably be completed in three months, HNMCP may work with clients to develop multi-semester projects, with concrete ‘deliverables’ to be completed each semester by successive teams of clinical students.
Below are instructions for developing a new project proposal. In addition there is a sample project. We ask that clients write the project proposal themselves in order to ensure that the project reflects the client’s preferences rather than our interpretations of them. As HNMCP evaluates each application based on specific criteria, we encourage potential clients to work with us in brainstorming project ideas and iterate multiple drafts of a proposal before the deadline.
Deadlines for fall and spring semesters can be found on our homepage in the “Becoming a Client” section. We will select projects most in line with our pedagogical mission and our capacities as a clinic, and work with those clients to finalize project descriptions before the semester begins.
For more information on HNMCP, please feel free to contact us at the contact information in the footer of this website. We very much look forward to working with you!
You can find our online project proposal submission form here. Want more information? See Instructions for Completing a Project Proposal and a Mock Proposal.