Dear friends and colleagues,
Our semester concluded on Friday, and as we shift from the rhythm of the fall into December, I am reflecting on why we are here.
As many of you know, my father passed away this summer after a challenging illness. As a result, I have spent a lot of time this past year appreciating the gift of this life and contemplating the legacy we leave behind. What matters? What endures?
While I imagine that each of us would answer this question differently, most of what rises to the fore for me is about how we engage with each other, with ourselves, and with the challenges of our world.
The way we show up for each other, in ordinary moments and in moments of need, matters. Our willingness to see each other and allow ourselves to be seen by others matters. The care and connection that we show for each other and for ourselves matter.
Struggle and growth also matter. We have a relatively short time on this earth in which to learn, to push our boundaries, to evolve and to help to move our world closer to justice. This can be a slow, sometimes painful process, beset by setbacks and obstacles. We get knocked down and we get back up again. Our progress is rarely linear. But it matters.
Societal transformation is ultimately driven by many individual transformations. As we learn to ask more of ourselves, to show ourselves compassion, and to hold ourselves accountable, we increase our capacity to influence the world around us. That matters.
Ultimately, this is what I hope our students take away from their work with us. I hope they feel care and connection in their interactions with us and with each other. I hope they learn to hold themselves with tenderness, even as they hold themselves to a high standard. I hope they see us wrestle with the hard questions and appreciate that wrestling with the hard questions is why we’re here.
How do we see each other’s humanity, in all its brilliance and complication, as we engage with each other? How do we recognize the ways our lives have been shaped and deformed by the limiting and dehumanizing structures that give shape to our society? How can we work to shine light on, dismantle, and rebuild those structures? How do we work to hold our own reactions with compassion while also opening with curiosity to someone else’s view? How do we use the tools that we have to move out from behind our judgment to a place that enables us to build new relationships?
In our clinical work we often assist clients to evaluate, design, and implement dispute systems, helping them to see conflict as a source of value that can lead to growth and change rather than resistance and entrenchment. And while we always strive to offer them something of value that helps them feel better prepared to engage with the next step of their work, I hope we also offer them a model for showing up to the members of their community with curiosity and compassion, with hard questions and care, for listening to the things we don’t always want to hear, and for opening up to how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go.
As always, I am grateful for this community, for our students, for our clients, for my colleagues and loved ones, and for the hard problems.
Please read our latest newsletter to hear a bit about what our team has been working on.
Director, Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program
Clinical Professor, Harvard Law School
Fall 2021 Newsletter from the
Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP)
The editors of this newsletter want to start off with the wonderful news that this summer, our Director, Rachel Viscomi, was appointed full clinical professor of law here at Harvard Law School. Congratulations to Rachel from the entire HNMCP team, and the countless students and alumni whose lives she has touched!
Our client work
This fall, the Dispute Systems Design Clinic is managing six client projects that cross sectors and subject matters. Our students and clients alike have demonstrated both a focus on delivering service and an adaptive responsiveness to the many challenges of the current moment. Several of this semester’s projects are follow-ons from the work of previous semesters, while two are with first-time clients whose project proposals speak directly to our passion for working with communities looking to engage dialogue and conflict in new and better ways. You can read more about our fall projects at the links below:
If you missed our spring 2021 projects, you can read more about them here:
We are also thrilled to highlight one of our longest continuous partnerships, with six-time HNMCP client Jane Juliano, chief of the Alternative Dispute Resolution unit at the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. In our Client Spotlight, Jane recalls the origins of this rich collaboration, and the ways in which the students have supported and moved forward OSC’s work over the past nine years.
New content, new directions
This summer, we launched a new Scholarship page on our website, creating one easy location in which to find scholarly articles, non-confidential clinical work, and a new series of topic-specific dispute resolution guides authored by HNMCP staff. This new guide series, collectively called “From the Field,” seeks to bring together learnings and insights from HNMCP’s work since its founding in 2006, highlighting themes from the Clinic’s experience in particular areas while keeping individual client project work confidential. We released the first in the series—the Ombuds Guide, by Clinical Fellow Oladeji Tiamiyu—this summer, and the second—the Restorative Justice Guide, by Clinical Instructor Deanna Pantín Parrish—this fall. We hope that this series can be useful to multiple audiences, including experienced practitioners in the field, academics who study dispute resolution systems, and leaders within organizations seeking to strengthen their mechanisms for conflict engagement.
On the audio front, this past spring we launched Convergence: A Podcast on Dispute Resolution and Technology, hosted by Clinical Fellow Oladeji Tiamiyu. In this series, Oladeji speaks with thought-leaders and practitioners at the intersection of dispute resolution and technology on topics ranging from online dispute resolution’s origin stories to blockchain ODR and crowdsourced decision-making; from AI governance, ethics, and use cases to the deployment of tech in creative access to justice approaches in rural America; from the future of legal education to public service and tech’s impact on the law to technology and accessibility. Be sure to check out Oladeji’s rich, cutting-edge, and surprising conversations!
In June 2021, HNMCP and the American Bar Association jointly released a major new report identifying a list of key considerations for designing court-based and court-adjacent eviction prevention and/or diversion programs. The report, Designing for Housing Stability: Best Practices for Court-Based and Court-Adjacent Eviction Prevention and/or Diversion Programs, was written by HNMCP Clinical Instructor Deanna Pantín Parrish, with research support from Dispute Systems Design Clinic students Julian Huertas and Daniel Nissimyan. The report was part of the materials distributed to the 50 cities participating in the White House Summit on Eviction Prevention at the end of June, and Parrish presented the report at the Quinnipiac-Yale Dispute Resolution Speaker Series this September.
Student engagement and innovation
As always, our students have energized and inspired us, quickly adapting this past year to take new approaches to their work in the field. In A Year of Pandemic Mediation—Online Lessons Learned at the Harvard Mediation Program, student president Peter Daniels ʼ21 walks through the many changes that the Harvard Mediation Program made in order to continue offering its services to the community remotely, and offers insights about the complexities and opportunities of this new, reimagined mediation landscape. Similarly, since 2016 members of the student practice organization HLS Negotiators have created and delivered an annual negotiation training to local high school students, and this year was no exception. In Adapting to the Virtual World: Teaching Negotiation to High School Students Online, Kate Strickland ’23, Colin Mark ’22, Lorea Mendiguren ’23, and Anselmo Cassiano pull back the curtain on the design of the four-part program, and reflect on lessons learned from the remote teaching experience. This fall, members of HLS Negotiators had the opportunity to reprise their roles as remote facilitators in a partnership with the Pathways Institute for Negotiation Education, which ran a new online program for educators from around the world. Stay tuned for a reflection on this experience in our next newsletter!
Our students are also enriching and moving forward the dialogue on important questions for our field in this moment. We were thrilled to have two student writers contribute recurring columns to our blog this past spring—Zekariah McNeal ʼ21 and Patrick Maxwell ʼ21— both of whom were students in the Dispute Systems Design Clinic over the past year. In his posts, Zekariah discussed the role of identity in negotiation and the ways in which it may impact a negotiator’s sense of commitment, and offered a two-part, incisive analysis of what makes a negotiation “win-win.” Patrick explored the challenges of conflict between individuals or groups who have different norms, cultures, and processes for resolving disputes in a six-part series of thoughtful essays. We hope you enjoy their work as much as we do.
You can also read more about Patrick in our Student Spotlight feature, in which he shares his journey from peacebuilding work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (which led to his involvement with HNMCP as a client!), to two projects as a student in HNMCP, a year leading the Harvard Mediation Program, and a regular in our many courses and reading groups. In an interview with Program Coordinator Tracy Blanchard, he reflects – and brings his signature sense of humor – as he takes stock of the insights he has gathered, and where this work will take him next.
News and Notes from our Alumni
As part of her work as ADR Coordinator at the New Hampshire Judicial Branch Margaret Huang ʼ19 designed a new landlord/tenant dispute resolution program that is now being touted as a model for addressing rent disputes in the pandemic.
Former HNMCP student and Clinical Instructor, and current Assistant Professor of Law at Northern Illinois University, Andrew Mamo ʼ14, was invited to present his paper Against Resolution: Dialogue, Demonstration, and Dispute Resolution as part of the Ohio University Moritz College of Law’s Dispute Resolution Works-in-Progress Consortium Series “Discovering New Voices in Dispute Resolution.”
Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of State Ariel Eckblad ʼ16 published an important article in the Harvard Negotiation Law Review, “In Pursuit of Fairness: Re-negotiating Embedded Norms & Re-imagining Interest-Based Negotiation,” arguing that “. . . many types of criteria relied upon by the interest-based framework to ensure objectivity and fairness are themselves animated by norms that are prejudiced and, in fact, unfair. There are countless norms—white supremacy, patriarchy, and classism to name a few—that are fundamentally premised upon inequity. They were, in fact, created to be violently unfair. . . . if interest-based negotiation is to realize its promise of fairness, sources of legitimacy must be re-imagined.”
Educator, facilitator, and consultant Whitney Benns ʼ15 and former HNMCP Clinical Instructor Alonzo Emery ʼ10 published a powerful conversation in Dispute Resolution Magazine on emotional labor, negotiating with/in/against powerful systems, and the challenging concept of “neutrality” in dispute resolution.
Ashleigh Ruggles Stanley ʼ18, and her HLS spouse Maclen Stanley ʼ18, have a terrific TikTok channel: Law.Says.What: Stuff You Didn’t Know About the Law (But Really Should).
To keep our students connected to ADR during remote learning last year, we created a weekly email highlighting dispute resolution-related events, conferences, and panels happening across the country, as well as alerts to articles, books, blogs and other resources related to our field. We have decided to continue this weekly email. If you have an upcoming online, public event or conference relating to conflict engagement, please send the full details (title, description, date and time, and registration or Zoom link) to [email protected] and we would be glad to include it in our email. Our students have kept our HNMCP community engaged, vibrant, and curious, and we are always seeking new ways to connect and offer the sense of belonging that is at the core of who we are.