Law / Courts Negotiation

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Most legal disputes are not decided by judges and juries, but rather settled prior to a formal decision.  Whether brought together by court-mandated mediation or on their own volition to seek mutually acceptable outcomes, those engaged in legal disputes will often find themselves making their case across the table rather than to judges. Legal professionals must, of course, know how to read and debate the law to do the best for their clients and make sound legal decisions. They must also, however, know how to be good negotiators. Training lawyers and others engaged in legal disputes the art and science of negotiation is a core mission of the Program on Negotiation.

A wide range or role-plays on negotiation in the context of legal disputes are available through the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center (TNRC). In Eazy’s Garage, two lawyers – with or without their clients present – negotiate a billing dispute around car repairs. In Nazi Party of America v. Town of Hokey, a lawyer from the American Civil Liberties League meets a lawyer from the Town to advocate for the permitting of a Nazi Party parade through a largely Jewish community. Not all legal disputes involve lawyers. In Lake Wasota Fishing Rights, six different parties meet to negotiate an agreement on the rights of Indian tribes, commercial fishermen and recreational fishers rather than accept a court decision.

Videos available through the TNRC illustrate effective negotiation techniques in legal disputes. Lawyers & Clients: The Initial Interview demonstrates how lawyers – or other representatives – can effectively engage their clients to best represent them. A variety of books on negotiating legal disputes are also available. Some are more general in nature. The Handbook of Dispute Resolution, for example, is a comprehensive reference for lawyers and others engaged in negotiation. Other books deal with specific legal issues. Dividing the Child: Social and Legal Dilemmas of Custody, for example, explores custody issues and their impacts on the children involved.

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Case Studies & Articles

Gina Coplon-Newfield

This case study provides an intimate view into the fierce battle among major US nonprofit environmental groups, Members of Congress, and industry over energy policy in 2007. The resulting law slashed pollution by raising car efficiency regulations for the first time in three decades. For negotiators and advocates, this case provides important lessons about cultivating champions, neutralizing opponents, organizing the masses, and using the right message at the right time.

Role Simulations

Role Simulation
Law / Courts Negotiation Role-Play:

Baker & Irwin v. Department of Human Services

Bruce Deming
Two-party negotiation between attorneys for a state agency and a gay advocacy group regarding a state policy that led to the removal of two foster children from the home of a gay couple
Role Simulation
Melissa Manwaring, under the direction of David Fairman and Stacie Nicole Smith
Six-party, multi-issue negotiation among governmental, organizational, and family stakeholders regarding the implementation of court-ordered racial integration measures in Boston public schools and possible improvements in education and community relations
Role Simulation
Corporate Decision-Making Negotiation Role-Play:

Case of the Puerile Printer

Albie Davis and Ericka Gray
Six-party mediation with employees, employer, and legal counsel over the contested result of a sexual harassment grievance procedure
Role Simulation
Ethics Negotiation Role-Play:

Commonwealth v. McGorty

Robert C. Bordone and Jeremy McClane
Four-person integrative plea bargain negotiation between two prosecutors, a public defender, and an alleged assailant
Role Simulation
Business and Commercial Dispute Negotiation Role-Play:

Costless Warehouse

Joe Voyticky
Four- or five-person negotiation to settle an employee's claim of discriminatory firing and employer's claim of illegal conduct; negotiators represent each party, with optional fifth role who knows confidential details of each party's case
Role Simulation
Ethics Negotiation Role-Play:

DONS Negotiation

Robert Bordone and Jonathan Cohen, adapted from PONS Negotiation by Nevan Elam and Whitney Fox
Four-person, two-party, two-round between a former couple and their lawyers regarding the knowing transmission of DONS, a fatal disease communicated through sexual intercourse
Role Simulation
Health / Medicine / Pharmaceutical Negotiation Role-Play:

Drug Testing in the Workplace

Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld and Roger Winthrop
Three-person employment mediation between a truck driver and his company's personnel director, mediated by an Employee Assistance Program representative, regarding a positive drug test; a four-person version also includes a union representative
Role Simulation
Law / Courts Negotiation Role-Play:

Eazy's GarageTwo-party (lawyers only) version

Bruce Patton
Two-party negotiation between lawyers for an auto mechanic and a customer over a disputed auto repair bill
Role Simulation
Consumer Dispute Negotiation Role-Play:

Eazy's GarageFour-party (lawyers & clients) version

Bruce Patton (adapted by Sheila Heen)
Four-party, two-stage negotiation between an auto mechanic and a client and their respective attorneys over a disputed repair bill; first stage involves lawyer-client interviews and second stage involves negotiation
Role Simulation
Family Negotiation Role-Play:

Ellsworth v. Ellsworth

Frank Sander and William Ury
Two-party, multi-issue negotiation between lawyers for a divorcing couple over the terms of the divorce, including alimony, child support, and income tax issues
Role Simulation
Law / Courts Negotiation Role-Play:

Gator v. City of Quincy

Karen Falkenstein Green
Three-person small-claims mediation between a motorist and a city attorney regarding liability for damage to the motorist's automobile due to a pothole
Role Simulation
Family Negotiation Role-Play:

George and Martha

Two-party integrative negotiation between representatives for a divorcing couple over the amount of child support payments
Role Simulation
International Relations Negotiation Role-Play:

MC Metals

Dan Delisi, under the supervision of Lawrence Susskind and Paul Levy
Six-person integrative negotiation among representatives of manufacturing company, occupational safety agency, union, local fire department, and local technical expert to settle claims of safety violations that allegedly caused two employee deaths
Role Simulation
International Relations Negotiation Role-Play:

New Crimea Prison Overcrowding Simulation

Susan Podziba and Lawrence Susskind
Eight-party, multi-issue negotiation among prison administrators, government leaders, criminal justice advocates, and prisoners' rights advocates to develop recommendations for a comprehensive state policy to alleviate prison overcrowding
Role Simulation
Family Negotiation Role-Play:

People v. Malvenue

Ron Karp and Bruce Patton
Two-party plea bargaining negotiation between a prosecutor and the court-appointed defender for a man accused of abusing his wife, who refuses to sign the complaint against him
Role Simulation
Law / Courts Negotiation Role-Play:

State v. Huntley

Timothy Reiser
Two-party criminal plea bargain negotiation between a prosecutor and a public defender for a man charged with aggravated rape
Role Simulation
Law / Courts Negotiation Role-Play:

Super Slipster

Matt Smith under the supervision of Robert C. Bordone, with revisions by Michael Moffitt
Two-party personal injury settlement negotiation between the attorney for the injured plaintiff and general counsel for the defendant toy manufacturing company
Role Simulation
Family Negotiation Role-Play:

Trask Divorce

Two-party, multi-issue negotiation between lawyers representing a divorcing couple regarding alimony and financial support for a special-needs child; involves ethical issues
Role Simulation
Sean Cote under the supervision of Abram Chayes and Antonia Handler Chayes
Three-person mediated or arbitrated settlement conference regarding a contract dispute between a U.S.-based graphics firm and a Japanese digital printer manufacturer
Role Simulation
Law / Courts Negotiation Role-Play:

United States v. Dunlop

Dan Vogel, under the supervision of Robert Bordone
Four-person, three-issue, two-round between U.S. prosecutors, an executive charged with securities fraud, and defense counsel over the terms of a possible plea bargain; attorney-client interviews are followed by a plea bargain negotiation
Role Simulation
Gender Negotiation Role-Play:

Weathers and Evans

Douglas Stone
Two-party negotiation between a law firm partner and former associate regarding sexual harassment allegations

Books

original
Book

Daniel Bowling & David Hoffman

"Rich insights and diverse perspectives, valuable for novices and experienced practitioners alike." - William Ury
original
Book

David Hoffman

A mediator's quintessential one-stop guide for tested techniques and sources.
original
Book

Iris Bohnet

A "game-changer" that demonstrates how research is addressing gender bias, improving lives and performance.

Video and Audio

Videos and Audio
Produced by Larry Susskind and Warren Dent
The Program On Negotiation at Harvard Law School invited three members of its highly experienced negotiation faculty to share stories about how they have adapted their teaching strategies in various cross-cultural contexts.
original
Videos and Audio

Robert H. Mnookin and Susan Hackley

An illustration of interviewing and listening techniques appropriate for lawyer-client interviews, featuring Harvard Law School Professor Robert Mnookin
Videos and Audio

Charles Doran

Video featuring an actual landlord-tenant small claims mediation
original
Videos and Audio

Gary J. Friedman, Jack Himmelstein, and Robert H. Mnookin

A mediation training video illustrating the non-caucus "Mediation through Understanding" model

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