Tuesday, January 7, 2020
More on Incorporating Negotiation Exercises Into Business Law Courses: Some Help from Professor George Siedel
I’ve previously blogged about using negotiation exercises in my undergraduate and graduate Business Law/Legal Environment courses (here). I’ve also mentioned that, having taught both business law and negotiation courses in a law school, I know that such exercises would also work well in a law school business law course.
Last August, at the Annual Conference of the Academy of Legal Studies in Business, I had the good fortune of catching up with Professor Susan Marsnik from the University of St Thomas Business School. Eventually, our conversation turned to one of my favorite topics: negotiation! Marsnik mentioned that Professor George Siedel, the Williamson Family Professor of Business Administration Emeritus and the Thurnau Professor of Business Law Emeritus at the University of Michigan, had written some great negotiation materials (here), and they were free! Obviously, I couldn’t wait to learn more! And now that I have, via Marsnik’s help, I wanted to pay it forward!
Siedel’s comprehensive negotiation materials center on the sale of a house, and include Seller/Buyer roles. He shares that “Over the years, I have developed and tested “The House on Elm Street” exercise in undergraduate and MBA courses and in executive seminars in North America, South America, Asia and Europe. The courses and seminars have been developed for (or have included) a wide range of participants, such as athletic directors, attorneys, engineers, entrepreneurs, managers, and physicians.” (p. 2)
What is absolutely wonderful about Siedel's materials is that he also provides not only a slide deck, but also a twenty-page teaching note, Why and How to Add Negotiation to Your Introductory Law Course, to guide you through how to teach the exercise. This is key. He states (and I agree) that many professors don’t include negotiation exercises in their business law courses because there is already so much material to cover, and perhaps more importantly, they don’t feel qualified to teach it. That’s the beauty of these materials: Siedel walks you through teaching the exercise, step by step! Many negotiation exercises for purchase do include teaching notes. However, Siedel’s teaching notes are free, and among the most comprehensive that I’ve seen. What are you waiting for?
In my experience, students love negotiation exercises. Probably like many BLPB readers, I’m tweaking and finalizing my spring 2020 course syllabi as the new semester is around the corner. I encourage you to review Siedel’s excellent materials, and consider including negotiation exercises in your business law courses. It would be ideal if: 1) students were to be able to read at least some of a good negotiation text such as Siedel’s Negotiation for Success: Essential Strategies and Skills or Richard Shell’s Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People, and 2) you had a full 75 minutes to debrief the negotiation exercise. However, from my perspective, you shouldn’t let the absence of either deter you, especially from trying out the negotiation exercise for the first time. That’s exactly how I’m about to proceed, and I’ll keep you posted on how it all turns out.
Finally, a huge THANK YOU to Professor Siedel for creating and making these materials available!