Jennifer Reynolds: My first contact with the Program on Negotiation was an executive education class I took before law school, “Managing Conflict in the Organization.” It was a great class, and when I arrived at HLS I resolved to take as many negotiation-related courses as I could.
During my three years, I went through the “Negotiation Workshop,” “Negotiation Advanced: Deal Design and Implementation,” and “Dispute Systems Design” (seminar and clinical). Additionally, I served as a teaching assistant for the winter “Negotiation Workshop” and for the Program of Instruction for Lawyers (now called The Harvard Negotiation Institute), worked as a research assistant for Professor Bordone, and was a Harvard Negotiation Research Project Fellow.
HNMCP: What were the most important skills you learned through your negotiation training and how have they been useful?
JR: Critical reflection on past interactions and working through alternative approaches for similar, future interactions — basically, what we learn to do in negotiation journals — are skills that I continue to practice because they give me useful perspective[s] on group dynamics, strategic possibilities, and my own operating assumptions in a given situation. Negotiation lends itself readily to abstractions such as game theory and economic analysis, and although these are helpful analytical tools, they need to be situated within the specific human experiences that give rise to differences and conflict.
Reflection, analysis, diagnosis, and prescriptive advice are an effective way to experiment with theory while remaining firmly grounded in the real world.
HNMCP: How are you using these skills in your current work?
JR: As a professor, I encourage my students to develop this kind of awareness through partner feedback, journals and writing assignments, video analyses, and small group meetings. We apply these skills whenever possible to real-life situations by first talking through the potential opportunities and problems of the situation and then coming up with practice scenarios to work through. And when I mediate outside the law school, we often go through these same kinds of exercises.After graduation, Reynolds worked as an associate at Dow Lohnes PLLC, a firm specializing in First Amendment Law. In the fall of 2008, she joined the faculty at the University of Missouri School of Law as a visiting associate professor, teaching negotiation, conflict theory, and lawyering. In 2009 she became an assistant professor at the University of Oregon School of Law. She teaches civil procedure and negotiation.