The Negotiation Simulation Method: Teach Legal Lessons by Immersive Means

By — on / Teaching Negotiation

Training Skilled Negotiators Inside And Outside The Courtroom

In complex legal negotiations, money, reputations, and sometimes even lives are often at stake. Legal professionals must know how to read and debate the law as well as understand and reframe their client’s interests.

To help attorneys and other legal professionals fully realize the potential of a dynamic lawyer/client relationship, the Program on Negotiation’s Teaching Negotiation Resource Center (TNRC) offers a wide range of training material based on the negotiation simulation method.

Two of the TNRCs most useful role-plays for learning how to be more effective legal counsel are Eazy’s Garage and Baker & Irwin V. Department Of Human Services.

Eazy’s Garage – Featured Negotiation Simulation

When it comes to auto repairs, tensions often run high. In this two-party negotiation, Susan Garfield has a billing dispute with John Eazer, the owner of a local garage, over some work done on Garfield’s car. Dissatisfied that the bill is higher than the estimate, Garfield uses her spare key to drive her car home – without paying the bill. Two lawyers are charged with resolving the dispute.

In this negotiation simulation, participants learn how to:

  • Negotiate in the shadow of the law (and under the threat of a possible lawsuit)
  • Find balance among short-term and long-term interests, including financial, relationship, reputation, and emotional interests
  • Evaluate the relevance and uses of objective criteria
  • Negotiate a resolution to an emotional dispute between clients with a long-term relationship
  • Define what constitutes “success” whether it is making the other side back down, avoiding litigation or brokering a fair deal

Baker & Irwin V. Department Of Human Services – Featured Negotiation Simulation

Multifaceted political issues are at play in this 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.

In this challenging negotiation simulation, resolution is possible but only if each party addresses its competing concerns. Participants will have ample opportunity to:

  • Discuss how the multiple interests affect their approach to the negotiation and potential settlement
  • Explore how different perceptions may lead to different conclusions about the desirability of negotiated settlements over litigation
  • Evaluate the potential impacts of each dispute resolution method on the interests of their parties
  • Understand how negotiators who must present settlements to the public may feel different levels of flexibility than do those who negotiate in public
  • Evaluate how an impending press conference could alter their behavior during the negotiation and how it might impact the final drafting of a settlement

TNRC: A go-to resource for more than 25 years

In addition to offering more than 200 negotiation role-play simulations, the TNRC offers a wide range of effective teaching materials, including:

TNRC materials are designed for educational purposes. Role-plays from the negotiation simulation catalog are used in college classroom settings or corporate training settings; used by mediators and facilitators seeking to introduce their clients to a process or issue; and used by individuals who want to enhance their negotiation skills and knowledge.

A role-play simulation is a great way to introduce participants to new negotiation and dispute resolution tools, techniques and strategies. Our videos, books, case studies, and periodicals are also a helpful way of introducing viewers to key concepts while addressing the theory and practice of negotiation and conflict management.

Check out all that the TNRC has in store >>

Originally published in September, 2014.

The Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School
501 Pound Hall
1563 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
tel 1-800-391-8629
tel (if calling from outside the U.S.) +1-301-528-2676
fax 617-495-7818