Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Tonight, I will teach my first negotiation class, to a group of Belmont University MBA students. Over the past months, I have read a number of books on negotiation and reflected upon the negotiation I did in practice and am still doing in my professional life and personal life. The more I read and think about the subject, the more I am convinced that law students and lawyers (in addition to business students and business people) need more training in negotiation.
In litigation, I have heard that well over 90% of cases settle before trial, requiring negotiation, and in the transactional context, negotiation is ever-present.
The late-Roger Fisher of Harvard Law School (and co-author of the perennial best seller Getting to Yes) has a short video clip about negotiation v. litigation posted below. My legal training did a good job sharpening my critical thinking, improving my attention to detail, and preparing me to "win" arguments. However, I cannot remember much time devoted to joint-problem solving, uncovering underlying interests, and dealing with people problems. While much of what is written in Getting to Yes and its progeny is common sense, it is easy to stray from its guidelines without considerable practice.
I am excited about teaching this "Decision Making and Negotiation Skill" MBA class and may add additional blog posts as the semester progresses. Each class includes mock negotiations from Harvard Law School's Program on Negotiation and/or The Dispute Resolution Research Center at the Kellogg School of Managment at Northwestern University.
Perhaps some of the business law professors reading this blog would like to incorporate some of the negotiation/dispute resolution literature into their classes. I know a number of professors who include one or more mock negotiations in their classes, but wonder how many also talk about the theory and research on the subject to inform the classroom interaction. For those interested in doing further reading in the area, I enjoyed Negotiation And Settlement Advocacy: A Book Of Readings, which does a nice job of compiling and editing a range of articles. Also, Professor Leigh Thompson (Northwestern) has an excellent book entitled The Mind and Heart of the Negotiator, which we use in our course.