Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Rachel Viscomi named clinical professor of law

Woman standing outside smiling

Initially published at Harvard Law Today

Rachel A. Viscomi ’01 has been appointed clinical professor of law at Harvard Law School. Viscomi, who was appointed director of the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP) in 2018, was most recently an assistant clinical professor of law.

“Rachel Viscomi adds to Harvard Law School extensive knowledge and a wealth of experience in negotiation and in the design of conflict resolution systems,” said John F. Manning ’85, the Morgan and Helen Chu Dean of Harvard Law School. “An exceptional teacher and colleague, Rachel’s many contributions have already made, and will continue to make, a lasting impact on our community.”

“I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to do rewarding work alongside my phenomenally talented colleagues and our extraordinary students. Their diligence, wisdom, and commitment to helping create a more just world inspires me every day,” Viscomi said. “This is a powerful moment for our field. We must reckon with structural injustice as we seek to imagine and build dispute systems and communities that function as well for those marginalized in our society as they do for those who are at its center. The road is long, and the journey has never felt more important.”

Viscomi joined HNMCP in 2013 as its assistant director and a clinical instructor and became director in 2018. In her clinical work, she supervises projects related to dispute systems design, conflict assessment, facilitated dialogue, strategic negotiation advice, and curriculum design. Viscomi has worked closely with students to re-envision public safety, reinvigorate public dialogue, increase access to justice, and enhance connection and accountability within organizations.

She teaches several advanced negotiation courses, including Designing Dispute Systems for Justice, Facilitation Workshop: Leading Challenging Conversations in Business, Politics, and the Community, and Multiparty Negotiation, Group Decision Making and Teams. She has also taught a reading group for first-year law students for several years called “Strategies of Nonviolent Resistance.” In the classroom and outside, Viscomi strives to help her students engage not just with conflict in the external world, but with the internal tension this work can elicit.

Viscomi has sought to increase access to facilitation and dialogue within the Harvard Law School community and beyond, training new lawyers and conflict consultants to lead through uncertainty, engaging the strong emotions, cognitive biases, and narrative intricacy that typify complex disputes. She has worked closely with the incredible Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program team to expand opportunities on campus for students interested in dispute resolution.

Viscomi’s teaching and consulting work has taken her all over the globe, from Northern America to the Middle East, Asia, Europe, Central America, Africa, and beyond. She regularly presents on topics related to facilitation, mediation, dispute systems design, and negotiation.

Prior to joining HLS, Viscomi was a principal in the Corporate Education Practice of Vantage Partners, a Boston-based consulting firm. Before joining Vantage, she was a civil litigator with the law firm of Bingham McCutchen, LLP, where she worked on First Amendment, contract, employment, prisoners’ rights, and construction-related issues.

VIscomi holds an M.A. in Italian from Middlebury College and a B.A. summa cum laude in Italian Literature from Columbia University. She received her J.D. from Harvard Law School.