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HNMCP Celebrates 2019 Art Award Winners


The Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP) is pleased to celebrate the winners of its 6th Annual Art Award Contest. The purpose of this annual award is to honor artists who, through their creative expressions, contribute to the work of conflict resolution and peacemaking.

As a clinic, HNMCP seeks to explore challenging interpersonal dynamics leading to conflict and build community around the honing of skills associated with effective dispute resolution.

Given our dedication to the creation of an environment conducive to those goals, we hope that our physical office space is reflective of our values as well as the ambitions we have for our work.

We believe that art has the power to illuminate what connects all of us and to encourage the engagement of empathy. We are fortunate that the artwork detailed below will be on display in our offices for the remainder of the academic year, and in the case of a couple of the pieces, join our permanent collection.

Please visit our offices on the fifth floor of Pound Hall (P513) in the coming weeks to join us in appreciating these awe-inspiring works of art!


2019 Winners

Allow Me To Flower One More Time/ Déjame Florecer Una Vez Más”

Painting depicts a large colorful mural. Paintings in the middle show the stages of the undocumented immigrant experience. Images include an angel, a heart with flowers growing out of it, butterflies, a city skyline, hands tearing a heart in half. Smaller rectangular paintings surround the large centerpiece, each with a separate image. Images include flags, a sunset over an ocean, a camera, hearts.

About the Piece: This mural was designed and painted by undocumented, unaccompanied Central American minors currently detained in a maximum security prison in the United States. The mural is the outcome of a six- years art in prisons project that artist Claudia Bernardi has been facilitating, reaching Central American incarcerated minors who had been detained at the US/ Mexico border.

About the Artist: Claudia Bernardi, socially engaged and community-based artist, printmaker and installation artist, whose artwork is impacted by the effects of war and political violence. Born in Argentina, Bernardi endured the military junta (1976-1983) that caused 30,000 “desaparecidos”. Bernardi participated with the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team in exhumations investigating human rights violations against civilians. This experience impacted her commitment to community arts. In 2005, Bernardi created the School of Art in Perquin, El Salvador, a community-based art project replicated in Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, Argentina, Switzerland, Germany and Northern Ireland. Bernardi is Professor of Community Arts, Diversity Studies and Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts.


A portrait of a Syrian woman with her arms wrapped around herself. She is wearing a colorful floral print dress. The background behind her is a blue map showing the aerial view of Aleppo.

About the Piece: This artwork is a digital reproduction of Lina 2018, a pastel, gunpowder & powdered graphite drawing of a Syrian woman framed by an aerial view of Aleppo. This work is a companion piece to the artist’s video and mixed-media series, ‘Forced to Flee’, inspired by one woman’s escape from Syria and her ongoing effort to find a safe home for herself and her family. The artist hopes to humanize the abstraction of the crisis in Syria and to communicate her subject’s struggle, courage and tenacity with her work.

About the Artist: Linda Bond is a Resident Scholar at the Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center and a former faculty member of the Massachusetts College of Art & Design. She was recently awarded a grant from the Chenven Foundation and in 2017 was awarded grants from the Pollock Krasner Foundation and the Puffin Foundation. Her exhibitions include Kean University, Brandeis, Simmons, Southern New Hampshire University, B’NK’R Munich, Germany, Museo de Arte de Zapopan, Jalisco, Mexico, the MFA in Boston, Brattleboro Museum, Art Complex Museum, Fitchburg Art Museum, and the Corcoran Gallery. Her upcoming solo exhibition at Drexel University in Philadelphia will open in April 2020.


Two photos are shown side by side. The photo on the right shows an elderly man pouring something into a bowl as a young boy stands beside him holding a lit candle. The rest of the room is dark. The photo on the right depicts two young children, a girl and a boy, in a dark room looking at a candle that burns bright on a table.

About the Piece: Swiss photographer, Saskia Keeley, runs photography workshops in which participants unpack decades of fear and bias through the simple yet profound acts of looking and listening. She is exploring where these workshops can be helpful in global conversations toward peace and coexistence. Since 2016, Keeley has brought together Israeli and Palestinian women for photo workshops at the Roots Center on Israel’s West Bank.

The Roots Center was founded by a Palestinian peace activist and two rabbis for the purposes of promoting dialogue and understanding between Israelis and Palestinians who live in neighboring towns and villages. Saskia’s workshops provide an opportunity for Israeli and Palestinian women to have real contact with one another through a personal interaction. After each session, the participants bring the cameras home to photograph details of their life settings. The objective is for them to capture specific moments that are special and meaningful to them

In between sessions during a recent workshop, a threatening post on Facebook denounced the Palestinian coordinator for his connection to Roots, calling him an instigator and a “Jew collaborator.” The escalating provocations and threats caused great distress and the Palestinian participants were too scared to return. Saskia retrieved the cameras that had been in the women’s homes for 48 hours.

Out of fear of reprisal for this brief encounter with the Israelis, half of the Palestinian women had erased all the images from the memory cards. But in one of the cameras, the anonymous photographer captured the setting she saw a few days prior in the workshop, in the Havdalah photo. From memory, she replicated the image in all of its aspects: subject matter, emotion, and composition. The result is a similar moment in an Israeli home and a Palestinian one.

About the Artist: Saskia Bory Keeley is a Swiss photographer, educated at Geneva University, Sotheby’s, and the New Academy for Art Studies in London. She trained at the International Center for Photography in New York City and is enrolled in the Interspiritual Counseling Program (ISC), a 3-year training at the leading edge of the newly emergent field of Interspiritual Counseling (One Spirit Learning Alliance—NYC).

Saskia runs the Accompagnateur Workshops, photography workshops in which participants unpack decades of fear and bias through the simple yet profound acts of looking and listening. She is exploring where these workshops can be helpful in global conversations toward peace and coexistence (working with NGOs like Roots and Taghyeer in the West Bank) and within divided communities (collaborating with NGOs like Pico Union Project in Los Angeles and the Women’s Prison Association in New York City).


Founded in 2006, the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program focuses on cutting edge work in dispute systems design, negotiation, mediation, and facilitation.

Our clients are U.S.-based and international and include private corporations, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and community groups. Our students develop critical problem-solving skills, apply theory to practice, and deliver tailored conflict management solutions to our clients.

Rachel Krol ’12 and Sara del Nido Budish ’13 named co-Assistant Directors of HNMCP

Via the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program 

Rachel Krol

The Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP) is pleased to announce that Rachel Krol ’12 and Sara del Nido Budish ’13 have been promoted to co-Assistant Directors of HNMCP.  They will also be continuing their activities as Clinical Instructors in the Dispute Systems Design Clinic.

In their roles as Assistant Directors, Krol and Budish will help establish and pursue strategic priorities and curricular objectives for HNMCP, and assist with various administrative and programmatic aspects of HNMCP’s activities.  Krol will have primary responsibility for managing the processes of the Dispute Systems Design clinic and supervising clinical instructors in their project work.  Budish will have primary responsibility for creating, implementing, and managing HNMCP’s communication and content strategy and supervising the Clinical Fellow, Harvard Mediation Program staff, and student organizations (HLS Negotiators, Harvard Negotiation Law Review, and the Harvard Mediation Program).

Sara del Nido Budish

“I am overjoyed that Sara and Rachel Krol have agreed to take on leadership roles within HNMCP,” said Director of HNMCP and Assistant Clinical Professor Rachel Viscomi.  “Rachel and Sara are each enormously talented and committed to our work, our field, and our students. Their teaching, supervision of students, work with clients, and insight have made a huge impact over the last several years. I am thrilled that our program will continue to benefit from their wisdom and guidance, and grateful that they will be my partners in leading the next phase of the clinic’s work.”

Krol and Budish were both clinic students in HNMCP during their time at Harvard Law School, and since returning as alums they have served in a variety of roles within HNMCP, including as Clinical Instructors and teaching team members for numerous courses in negotiation and dispute systems design.

“I couldn’t be more excited for this unique opportunity to support HNMCP’s growth, development, and impact,” said Budish. “I’ve been so inspired by the work of our students, clients, and colleagues across the country who share a commitment to constructive conflict engagement, and it’s a gift to be able to deepen our program’s connections and build new ones.”

Krol added, “I echo Sara’s sentiments and look forward to contributing to the vibrant HNMCP community in this new role. I am honored to continue supporting our efforts to provide meaningful educational opportunities for our students and high-quality services for our clients.”

Before joining HNMCP, Krol taught negotiation at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and practiced law at the firms Drinker, Biddle, & Reath LLP and Ahmad Zaffarese LLC in Philadelphia.  Budish previously served as a Research Associate in the Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Unit at Harvard Business School, where she wrote case studies and helped design a curriculum focused on negotiation and incentive systems.


Looking for Tools to Change

Via the Harvard Dispute Systems Design Clinic (Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP))

Margaret Huang ’19

Margaret Huang ’19 came to law school looking for tools for change. Inspired by seminal Supreme Court cases like Roe v. Wade and Brown v. Board of Education, Huang set her sights on finding her particular path into change agency. At the time, law school seemed like the best way for her to acquire the skills to combat systemic racial and economic inequalities. However, by providing new frameworks for analyzing problems, law school has complicated her theory for how change happens.

HNMCP: When you were a student in the Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP), you worked on a project with the New Hampshire Judicial Branch Office of Mediation & Arbitration, which oversees alternative dispute resolution programs in the state. Your project looked at the use of alternative dispute resolution models in the family division specifically, focusing on the process for handling re-opened divorce and parenting cases. But this wasn’t your first hands on experience with clients, was it?

Margaret Huang: In undergrad I volunteered as a telephone counselor at the Women’s Law Project. My role was to provide legal information and referrals when people called in with their stories. It was the first time that I truly began to understand how interconnected problems in people’s lives were. Divorce, parenting, domestic violence can affect safety, shelter, and food insecurity, as well as be affected by them. This experience helped me in thinking about the project with the New Hampshire court because it gave me a deeper understanding of divorce and parenting disputes.

HNMCP: What was it about HNMCP that made you choose it for a clinical experience?

Margaret: I wanted to do more work in alternative dispute resolution. The Negotiation Workshop and the Harvard Mediation Program influenced the way I looked at disputes. These experiences taught me that sometimes the truth can be impossible to determine, but they also gave me the tools to figure out how to move forward despite that. And then the clinic, HNMCP, does a good job of providing a framework in which to analyze how individuals act within a system. By figuring out how a system influences the people who are within it (e.g., through the options it provides, or the difficulty or ease of taking a certain path), we can figure out how we might shift things for a different experience.

HNMCP: How did you see this fitting in with the work you want to do after law school?

Margaret: Like many people at this law school, I feel an urgency in the work of reforming the criminal system. The criminal system is both a result of, and a force in, perpetuating trauma and racial and economic injustice. But because of the power that prosecutors have, I also believe that to implement effective change, we need progressive prosecutors. After law school, I am going to the New York City Law Department’s Family Court Unit to work as a prosecutor in the juvenile court system, with the diversionary programs that exist there, and its focus on rehabilitation. When I worked there last summer, I learned about all the alternatives to placement programs like job training, family therapy, etc. to help keep a child from going back through the system. I think it’s a good model on how to handle juvenile cases and I am thinking about how can it translate into the adult system. No matter how gung ho individual prosecutors are, at the end of the day the outcome is supposed to be the least restrictive. Understanding systemic models better will help me move into policy work at local and state levels in the future.

HNMCP: While respecting client privilege, what were some rewarding and challenging experiences you had in your clinical work that you felt helped you move forward in your growth as a lawyer?

Margaret: I was amazed at how the people we worked with in the New Hampshire Court System were so forward-thinking. I feel like the way law school teaches the common law means there is a focus on the past, a mentality of ‘we do things this way because this is the way we’ve always done things.’ But the people we met in New Hampshire were constantly innovating and trying new models to help the people who go through their system. They were so inspirational!

The most rewarding part of the clinic was when [my project teammate] Michael [Haley] and I presented our findings and recommendations to the court administrators. Our analysis was objective, presenting both the positive and negative things that we had seen, but the court administrators were excited about our findings and seemed energized to start fixing some of the problems that we had found.

We did have challenges. As part of the project, we spent time calling folks who went through the New Hampshire system to get stakeholder feedback. Not all of them were very happy that their number had been given to us and one guy called around 15 times in 10 minutes to complain.

Margaret Huang & Michael Haley

HNMCP: So you had that on-the-ground learning of interacting with folks who had challenging experiences in the system and you were the one who had to talk to them and take that blow back.

Margaret: Yes. This is one of the places we got support from our supervisor. I learned a lot seeing Rachel [Krol] talk to him and calm him down. It was so admirable.

HNMCP: You also participated in the Harvard Mediation Program (HMP), a student practice organization. What was it about alternative dispute resolution as a discipline that attracted you to spend so much of your time in law school focusing on these skills?

Margaret: It was learning that 90% of cases settle out of court that made me want to learn about ADR. I stayed with it because of the experiential learning model and the practical skills I was receiving. Black letter law classes teach one set of skills, so studying ADR gave me that continued learning.

HNMCP: You started in HMP your 1L year, served as Training Director your 2L year, and by your 3L year you served as co-President (along with Laura Bloomer). What are some important leadership lessons you’ll be taking with you into your career?

Margaret: One of the gifts of being co-President was being able to see the organization in the long term. It also gave me the opportunity to tackle some of the problems I saw as a 1L.  As Training Director, I had the ability to address issues, make changes right away, and move forward quickly. But as co-President, of course, I had to run things by the Board and Staff, and know that I might not see changes before I graduated. Hearing [Advisory Board Member] Florrie [Darwin] share with me the growth she’s seen in the organization over the years, helped me understand that despite the fact that I could not immediately see the progress the organization was making, the changes Laura and I tried to implement might have an effect in the future. I also learned that working with colleagues who are committed and caring makes a huge difference.

HNMCP: What did you learn about yourself in your work in HNMCP and HMP?

Margaret: In both HNMCP and HMP I learned how to receive feedback, which is much harder than people acknowledge. But I needed to acknowledge where my weaknesses were in order to improve. So now I hear feedback as not about what’s wrong with me, but where I can get better.

I know I have said this a lot already, but HNMCP and HMP has influenced how I think about change. I used to believe that it was extraordinary individuals who were change-makers. Not to diminish the extraordinary things these individuals have done, but the picture is much more complicated. I now understand that because ADR teaches people how to analyze situations as stakeholders with their interests and agendas, I can see that change happens when some stakeholders agree on a solution that fits their needs. By using this framework, one can make change by influencing stakeholder agendas, by empowering certain stakeholders, finding creative solutions, and countless other possibilities.

I’ve also become more aware about how people make choices in a system. I was at the Prison Abolition Symposium that the Harvard Law Review put on earlier this year, and one of the speakers, Angel Sanchez, said something that really resonated with me. Paraphrasing, he said, “we should allow people to be normal.”

We should allow people to be normal. How can we construct a system where people do not need to be extraordinary to “make it?” How do we construct a system where people are allowed to make mistakes?

HNMCP: How have you found these skills translating into your own life?

Margaret: I’ve become a much better active listener [laughs]. In law school, we’re taught to provide solutions when people come to us with problems, but sometimes that’s not what someone needs. Sometimes it’s better to just acknowledge what’s going on and help them figure out what is the best solution for them.

HNMCP: Anything you want to add before we go?

Margaret: A big shout out to the 5th floor of Pound Hall [where HNMCP and HMP have their offices] for being so welcoming!

From the Boston Marathon to a deadly meningitis outbreak, a prosecutor shares negotiation lessons

Via Harvard Law Today 

By: Adriel Borshansky

Credit: Lorin Granger

This spring, George Varghese, an assistant U.S. Attorney based in Boston, delivered a guest lecture to the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program’s (HNMCP) Spring 2019 Negotiation Workshop, a limited-enrollment course that combines theory and practice with the aim of improving both the participants’ understanding of negotiation and their effectiveness as negotiators. Drawing from a wide variety of prosecutorial experiences from his current work in Boston, and from his previous work as an assistant U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C., Varghese shared insights and riveting anecdotes about what it is like to negotiate in the real world.

In the lecture, Varghese described three high-profile cases he worked on, and explained how the process of engaging in plea bargain negotiations provides a unique context in which to apply basic principles and theories of negotiation. While criminal law often features high-profile trials, he noted that 97% of cases are resolved through plea bargains.

He pointed out that several features characterize plea bargain negotiations. First, the stakes for defendants can be particularly high (often their lives are on the line). Second, the interests of defense counsel—seeking the best outcome for specific individuals—and the prosecution—representing the government and seeking the best outcome for a just society, broadly defined—often diverge significantly. Third, agreement reached through plea bargain negotiations involves a third party—a judge—who is not at the table, yet wields ultimate authority. Moreover, he said, plea bargain negotiations can be particularly complicated due to differing assessments of the law and uncertainties regarding the facts of a given case.

Varghese’s first example came from the case against Oscar Ortega-Hernandez, who shot at the White House in November 2011. After firing on the White House, Ortega-Hernandez fled and was ultimately apprehended after an extended manhunt. He was initially charged with the attempted assassination of President Barack Obama. However, during negotiations with defense counsel, this charge was dropped and Ortega-Hernandez was instead charged with destruction of property and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, ultimately resulting in a 25-year sentence after the application of a terrorism enhancement. Varghese explained that the specific nature of the charge mattered to the defense, while the prosecution was more concerned with the ultimate sentence. This difference, he said, provided an opportunity to negotiate.

By contrast, he offered the Boston Marathon bombing case, where he said the focus of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s defense counsel was on avoiding a death penalty. According to Varghese, the defense was willing to accept a resolution of life imprisonment. The Department of Justice believed it was more appropriate to leave this issue to the determination of a jury. Varghese later explained the complexities of representing the public interest as a prosecutor, and how in some instances there was a compelling public interest in rigorously presenting evidence at trial and letting the jury decide. (At trial, Tsarnaev was sentenced to death.)

The case against fourteen employees of the New England Compounding Center provided a third distinct context. NECC, based in Framingham, Mass., was responsible for distributing contaminated drugs to patients in several states; nearly 800 people developed meningitis and other infections as a result of fungal contaminants. An investigation into NECC’s practices revealed that their facilities were improperly cleaned; mold and bacteria grew regularly inside NECC’s “clean rooms”; expired drugs were relabeled and reused; required tests for sterility and potency were not always conducted; negative test results were not shared with medical providers; and a pharmacy staff member worked there despite having his license revoked.

Varghese explained how the prosecutors spoke extensively with victims to ascertain their interests in prosecuting NECC, and how the governmental interests at play included revealing the fraudulent behavior to the public. While there was little opportunity to negotiate plea bargains with most defendants in this case, some of the lower-level actors did plead guilty and cooperated with the government. The strategy of negotiating with low-level actors can be effective in situations in which the government interest in obtaining testimony against higher level defendants outweighs its interest in charging everyone involved in wrongdoing.

Ultimately, the levers available to prosecutors in plea bargains consist largely of the specific charges to be brought and recommendations for sentencing. Defendants may care not only about the type and duration of sentences, but also the reputational costs of certain charges. Because plea bargain negotiations are confidential, prosecutors and defense counsel can be more candid and transparent in their assessment of the case, and this transparency facilitates frank discussions of the deals to be made (which can be helpful for prosecutors seeking agreement). At the same time, the lack of public transparency around these kinds of negotiations can mean that any given defendant has limited information to use in negotiating their deal. The dynamics of plea bargains are also strongly influenced by the rhythm of the criminal trial process—defendants may be more or less likely to consider striking a deal from moment to moment.

In the question and answer session, Varghese revisited one particular theme that emerged over the course of his talk: the notion of victims and the general public as stakeholders; what it means to consider the interests of victims or stakeholders; and how one even registers or understands those sentiments. Varghese recalled his experiences sitting down with victims of NECC’s fraud. Echoing the principles of active listening taught in the Negotiation Workshop, Varghese insisted on the importance of prosecutors’ efforts to ask open-ended questions about what victims had experienced, and what they wanted going forward.

Varghese’s visit to the Spring Negotiation Workshop is the latest installment in an annual feature of the course in which a prominent real-life negotiator speaks to  students about their professional negotiation experience in an area of practice. Past speakers have included Wendy Sherman (in 2016 and 2018), Sarah Hurwitz, Bob Barnett, Ron Shapiro, Rose Gottemoeller, Grande Lum, and Clifford Sloan. The Negotiation Workshop, offered during the January term and spring semester, combines theory and practice to improve students’ understanding of negotiation and their skills as negotiators.

Thanks for Listening: Episode 2 – Youth, Dialogue, and The “Can We?” Project

Via the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

What would happen if people learned to flex their “dialogue muscles” at a very young age? What if, before developing a lot of disconnecting conversational habits, we developed the ones that allow us to engage constructively and effectively with others, even those with whom we disagree?

In Episode 2 of Thanks for Listening we’ll be talking about—and to!—teenagers who are discovering how to engage with the skills that bridge divides at a time when they are still developing their identities and shaping the way they interact with the world. We hear from Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Gretchen Brion-Meisels about adolescent brain development, how adolescents are influenced, and how they are uniquely suited to the work of dialogue. And we are excited to host Coutia, Huy, and Jacob in studio—three amazing teens who participated in an experiment called The “Can We?” Project—along with “Can We?” project co-creator and facilitator Deb Bicknell. Our guests show us exactly what is possible when we ask a simple question: “can we?”

Listen to the podcast here.

Thanks for Listening – Episode 1

Via the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinic

Source: Pixabay

This podcast will spotlight efforts to bridge the political divide in the U.S. through dialogue and collaborative processes, profiling the important and often courageous work of individuals and organizations who are helping citizens engage with one another on challenging topics. Episodes will dive deep into such issues as: managing difficult family dynamics and relationships affected by partisan differences; bridging the divides in Congress, the media, and in our social media spaces; training youth to move through conflict and toward civic responsibility; embracing dialogue in the face of extremism; engaging with others on highly emotional issues; and on working to restore divided communities. We hope that through the everyday examples of ordinary and extraordinary people all over the country, listeners will find optimism that we can—and are—moving beyond partisan divides, as well as inspiration to become part of the solution.

In this first episode we’ll look at politics around the Thanksgiving table—the start of a long month of family gatherings and meals to celebrate the holidays.

Click here to read a transcript of the episode.

What Relevance for ADR in situations of Domestic Violence? Part 2: The design and challenges of Bhutan’s Consensus Building Initiative for certain types of domestic violence

Credit: Adam Dean
Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck LL.M. ’07 is honorable president of Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law, named after her father, the fourth king of Bhutan.

By: Stephan Sonnenberg ’06

Last month, I wrote about the fundamental debate over whether ADR processes should have any role to play in situations of alleged domestic violence. The answer I proposed was essentially a longer version of the standard ‘it depends’ response to difficult questions that law school professors have so fondly committed to memory.

My answer adopts neither the universalist nor the culturally relativist approach. The universalist approach would adopt and promote globally the western (or legalist-individualist) ideal, according to which all domestic violence cases should be handled exclusively by means of formal judicial remedies. The culturally-relativist approach, by contrast, would hold that any practice, no matter how inhumane and undignified, can be shielded from human rights critiques on the grounds that they are associated with the culture of a place. Marie Bénédicte-Dembour, an anthropologist who studies the application of human rights standards in transnational contexts, described the first position as “arrogant” and the second position as “indifferent.”[1] Left with no easy answers, she condemned the thoughtful human rights practitioner to a perpetual “dialogical dialogue,” swinging like a pendulum in the uncomfortable grey zone between these two ideologically pure, but ethically suspect, polar positions. That same grey-zone space, I fear, is where we also find ourselves as dispute systems designers when we discuss how to encourage domestic violence survivors to seek redress in the unique cultural, historical, and philosophical context of Bhutan.

In this post, I would like to describe how our clinic at the Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law,and our project partners at RENEW (which stands for Respect, Educate, Nurture, Empower Women), maneuvered this “dialogical dialogue,” as well as the resulting dispute system that emerged from it.

In 2017, RENEW’s domestic violence community support volunteers articulated the urgent need for there to be an informal means to address alleged instances of domestic violence in Bhutanese communities. Survivors of domestic violence, they reported, were for a variety of reasons unwilling to take their concerns to the police or the courts. Many of them might be willing to approach a village elder, but those elders increasingly had been trained not to accept cases involving domestic violence. Left with no forum where they felt comfortable enough or welcome enough to discuss their concerns about domestic violence, many survivors turned to RENEW’s domestic violence resource persons begging them to act as mediators. Those RENEW volunteers were then left with the uncomfortable choice of either accepting to quietly—and illegally—mediate the case, or knowingly leave the survivor in a vulnerable position with literally no recourse at all. This damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t scenario served neither the RENEW community support volunteers’ interests nor did it serve the interests of the survivors.

During their annual retreat, these RENEW community support volunteers formally asked RENEW’s management to train them as mediators. In response RENEW asked our law clinic, along with Bhutan’s judicial training institute and a few other lawyers, to discuss the proposal. It soon became clear, however, that the volunteers’ request was much more complicated than it might at first have appeared. First, mediation in Bhutan is allowed only in civil cases. Bhutan’s legislation clearly defines all forms of domestic violence as criminal offenses. Furthermore, Bhutan’s lawmakers have made it clear that domestic violence must not only be physical or sexual in nature, but can also be financial or emotional. All four types of domestic violence are defined as criminal. Therefore, even domestic violence cases that might otherwise be addressed by means of counseling or neighborly intervention (ex: less serious forms of emotional abuse) would in Bhutan fall under the definition of a potentially criminal offense. Second and more fundamentally, we discussed the dangers of using a less-transparent mediation process, premised on voluntary participation and lacking many of the procedural safeguards inherent in formal judicial process, to resolve domestic violence cases. Structurally speaking, we explored how difficult it is for mediators to work with parties whose relationships are characterized by serious power imbalances and a history of verbal and emotional abuse.

To move the conversation forward, and in light of our ongoing consultations, our clinic put forward three hypothetical models for a future ADR initiative focusing on domestic violence, inviting both positive and negative feedback from stakeholders. Those were (1) a consensus building approach, where RENEW’s community volunteers would serve as facilitative problem solvers, with the backing of local elders and the police, but stripped of any authority to formally write up an agreement; (2) a transformative mediation approach, whereby mediators would act essentially as counselors tasked with helping the parties understand the impact of their actions on others around them; and (3) a victim-advocate model, where RENEW’s community volunteers would stand in solidarity with domestic violence survivors and help them maneuver a dispute resolution process run by someone else.

These consultations quickly converged on the first option as the preferred model to use as a starting point for further discussions. Over the course of a few months, our clinic and RENEW—in consultation with various justice sector stakeholders, including the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP), Bhutan’s National Commission on Women and Children (NCWC), Bhutan’s judicial training institute (BNLI), and RENEW’s community-based support volunteers and counseling department—came up with the present model of consensus building.

Cases can come to RENEW volunteers either directly or by referral from the RBP. In the first instance, the RENEW volunteer would first have to check with a designated RBP officer, usually one specially trained to handle issues relating to domestic violence, to seek official leave to act as a consensus builder in a given case. That request can be granted or denied based on the criteria detailed in a very important clause of Bhutan’s Domestic Violence Prevention Act of 2013 that sets forth a number of criteria that—if satisfied—allow a police officer to refer a case involving allegations of domestic violence to a “negotiated settlement” proceeding. These criteria collectively ensure that only first-time alleged offenses would ever be referred for consensus building, and further only those that would not qualify as potential felony offenses. In other words, the consensus building option would be available primarily for alleged instances of emotional or financial domestic violence.

Once the RENEW Volunteer is properly engaged, she or he would begin to act as a consensus builder, employing many of the skills one might teach in a traditional facilitative model of mediation. The consensus builder would also, however, be empowered specifically to employ a “gender-informed” facilitative style, urging the parties to think about how any agreements they contemplate might be seen by the police, who ultimately would have to re-approve and ratify any final agreements. The prospect of the RBP’s eventual review of any proposed outcomes gives the consensus builder the mandate to encourage the parties to think creatively about how to ensure that a basic sense of equity and dignity—and justice—is incorporated into their mediated agreement. By the same token, the consensus builder can also ensure that the interests of third parties (ex: other family members, neighbors, or other relatives) are also addressed as part of the mediation.

In the event that the parties reach an agreement, the consensus builder must turn to the RBP, a lawyer, or a traditional village elder to write up the agreement. If the case was originally referred to the RENEW volunteer by the police, the final agreement must also include a statement stating that the negotiated agreement formally settles any potentially criminal complaints they survivor may have originally levied with the police. In all cases, however, the settlement must be written, which also serves the secondary purpose of creating evidence; evidence that can be used in a subsequent criminal proceeding should there ever be a resurgence of the same pattern of abusive behavior between the parties in the future.

What then, are our challenges as the designers and now promoters of this new dispute system? For one, we are keenly interested to see if we struck the correct balance, given the ethically and legally perilous terrain in which we found ourselves as designers of this dispute resolution process. To do so, we are trying to come up with meaningful indicators that we can use to determine whether the dispute system is achieving its intended purpose, and more specifically to determine whether it indeed represents an improvement over existing process alternatives such as the formal justice system. We are also concerned about the challenge of sustaining the initial energy and enthusiasm about this new strategy for handling domestic violence cases. Have we succeeded, we wonder, in developing a clear and easily replicable training that will allow future generations of RENEW volunteers to understand the complexity of the issues they are dealing with, and act responsibly and ethically within the bounds of the program as it was originally designed? Finally, we need to ensure that the initiative does not inadvertently give the volunteers confidence to act beyond the boundaries of their mandates, no matter how tempting it may be for them to quietly expand their roles in the name of this consensus building process. Most importantly, we are determined to keep ourselves honest as well—honest and humble enough to accept the need to rethink the system we designed if and when it begins to appear that it might be causing more harm than good.

[1] Dembour, Marie- Bénédicte (2001), “Following the movement of a pendulum: between universalism and relativism,” in Jane K. Cowan et. al. Culture and Rights: Anthropological Perspectives, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

What Relevance for ADR in situations of Domestic Violence?

Via the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program 

Source: Pexels

By: Stephan Sonnenberg J.D. ’06

Domestic violence, as we are all by now painfully aware thanks to the #MeToo movement, continues to be a shockingly widespread and under-reported scourge.

The statistics are sobering: The World Health Organization estimates that over 1 in 3 women worldwide (approx. 35%) have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime, with that vast majority of that violence being perpetrated by an intimate partner. The United States is not exempt from this global trend. In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found that just under 1 in 10 women in the U.S. would experience rape by an intimate partner during her lifetime, and that just under 1 in 4 women and nearly 1 in 7 men would experience some form of severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. Nor is the situation any different in Bhutan, where a 2013 survey conducted by the National Council on Women and Children (NCWC) found that approximately 1 in 3 “ever-partnered” women would be likely to experience some form of intimate partner violence during their lifetime. And of course, even a cursory look at the front pages of our newspapers reveals just how widespread the impunity still is for these serious crimes, not just in Washington D.C. and Hollywood, but globally.

Can we do a better job addressing this scourge of daily hidden violence, abuse and humiliation? More to the point: can alternative dispute resolution processes, which here I define as “anything-other-than-formal judicial remedies” play a role in that improved justice response?

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Lessons Learned: Facilitating a Conversation about Remembrance

Via the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program 

Source: Pexels

By: Neha Singh ’19

When Zikaron BaSalon first asked me to facilitate a discussion about Holocaust Remembrance on Holocaust Memorial Day, the task seemed easy even though the subject matter was weighty. After all, many people who were similarly inexperienced in leading group discussions had successfully hosted similar events with Zikaron BaSalon in the past. Moreover, I was working with a great team of fellow students and mentors in the Harvard alternative dispute resolution (ADR) community who would help me make the discussion a success. And I had learned about facilitating conversations in my classes taught by expert facilitators.  With so much going for me, how could I not be an amazing facilitator?

Well, pride goes before the fall.

The more I prepared for the event, the more nervous I became. Despite receiving support from Zikaron BaSalon, despite the help of my team, and despite all my coursework in this area, I felt out of my depth. I had two major concerns with whether I could facilitate the upcoming discussion well.

My first concern was that maybe I was just the wrong person to be facilitating this discussion. How could I, a non-Jewish person with no family connections to the Holocaust possibly do justice to such an important topic? What could I, a second-year law student with nothing but book knowledge about ADR principles, have to offer to people with rich and deep connections to the Holocaust? Who was I to tell them how to share their feelings with each other? I seriously considered the idea that my most useful contribution to this event could be just remaining silent for an hour while others talked.  Unfortunately, remaining silent, while tempting, would not solve my second concern.

My second concern was that I would be unable to stop the discussion from becoming heated in a manner that would be counterproductive to our goal of encouraging Holocaust Remembrance. It was all too easy to imagine the conversation transforming into an angry yelling match. What would I do if people began to discuss and have intense political disagreements about Israel-Palestine relations? Or about the political climate in the US? Or about the refugee crisis in Germany? All of these are topics worth discussing in detail, but I was unconvinced that heated discussions on these topics would further our goal of Holocaust Remembrance.

Eventually, I was able to address both my concerns and facilitate a discussion that I thought was honest, welcoming, and respectful. While I will not pretend I did everything perfectly, it was a rewarding experience that taught me a lot. If I were to host an event like this again, I would make some changes that I think would make the discussion even better.

To address my first concern of not having the right background to facilitate this discussion, I asked for help from a colleague who had a different background that complemented mine. Specifically, one of my former Teaching Assistant colleagues, Max, was available to help facilitate the event with me. Max brought with him his lived experience as a Jewish person and his history of facilitating conversations about the Holocaust in other contexts; this made him an invaluable addition to the team, as he was able to suggest facilitation strategies that created an environment that was conducive to a rewarding discussion. In addition, the two of us as facilitators made a good team because we could model for the rest of the group how Jewish and non-Jewish people could talk together about the Holocaust. During the event itself, no one questioned or seemed offended by the fact that I was co-facilitating the discussion, which I took as a sign that I had addressed my first concern well enough.

To address my second concern of not wanting the discussion to turn into a heated argument, Max and I worked together to prepare a plan for how we would stop off-topic heated arguments, if those occurred. A big part of this process was deciding what counted as “off-topic” in the first place. After all, people have different thoughts about the subject of the Holocaust, and we did not want to stifle any expression that was respectful and sincere. We ended up creating a list of topics that we thought were off-topic and would lead to arguments, and decided that if the discussion veered into these topics, we would re-direct the conversation by asking a new question or prompting a different participant to speak. I was the major driving force behind this strategy, because I felt uncomfortable with allowing conflict in a discussion that I was facilitating. I was uncomfortable because I would hold myself responsible if a participant in my discussion felt disrespected or offended; thus, I wanted to eliminate the chance that any participant would have to participate in a conflict that could lead to disrespect or offense. In retrospect, I think I could have handled this concern better. We were lucky that no heated arguments came up during our discussion, but if one had, I do not think our proposed approach would have been the best way to deal with it. If such an argument had come up, we would have changed the topic, which may have led to resentment at being cut off, confusion about why we were not allowing the discussion to continue organically, and unwillingness to participate further. I think a better approach would have been to be more open about my discomfort and thought process. For example, I could have told the participants that I felt conversations about X, Y and Z topics would lead to heated arguments that I wanted to avoid, and then allowed them to respond regarding whether they agreed with me or not. This way, the discussion would be more democratic, instead of being restricted to topics that I thought would not generate conflict that made me uncomfortable. This more open process would take the burden of guiding the conversation off my shoulders, and allow all participants to feel responsible for the direction of the conversation.

I still treasure the discussion we had that night. Many attendees offered constructive feedback about changes we could have made, but all attendees appreciated the chance to have had such a meaningful discussion. However, looking back on the experience with the benefit of hindsight, my biggest takeaway from hosting the Zikaron BaSalon event is not that I managed to pull it off. My most powerful learning comes from all the questions I still think about. How do I best connect with people who have different histories than me, and help them talk freely with me? How do I handle heated, but important, discussions? I found a way to address my concerns for the duration of the Zikaron BaSalon event, and I am grateful to have had the chance to see how wonderful conversations can be when these questions are considered and engaged.

Rachel Viscomi named assistant clinical professor of law and director of the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

Via Harvard Law Today

Rachel A. Viscomi ’01 has been appointed assistant clinical professor of law at Harvard Law School and named director of the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP). She was formerly a lecturer on law at HLS and the acting director of HNMCP.

“Rachel Viscomi has a deep understanding of both the theory and practice of negotiation and conflict-resolution, which she teaches expertly in the classroom and the clinic,” said John Manning, the Morgan and Helen Chu Dean of Harvard Law School. “I am delighted that Professor Viscomi is joining our faculty to teach negotiation to our students and to enhance learning about this important field.”

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Applying Negotiation Skills in the Foreign Service

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

This is the third blog is a new series called “From the Field”. In this series we spotlight stories and insights from former students, friends, and colleagues who are working in the field of dispute resolution.

By Matilda Jansen Brolin, LLM ’16

Matilda Jansen Brolin, LLM ’16

A year after graduating from Harvard Law School (HLS) with an LL.M in 2016, I joined the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and began the Diplomatic Training Program as a young career diplomat. From the application process to what I do at present, I’ve put the pedagogical skills in alternative dispute resolution—developed at HLS through the Negotiation Workshop, courses in mediation and Dispute Systems Design, and in the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP) and the Harvard Mediation Program (HMP)—into practice.

The Swedish Foreign Service greatly values negotiation, mediation, and facilitation skills in the people it admits to the Diplomatic Training Program. The assessment of candidates includes a group exercise where participants must agree amongst each other on how to solve a set of problems for a fictitious company and together present the solutions to a CEO, all under severe time constraint. In my case, the many individual interviews ended up largely focusing on my experience as mediator with HMP and the clinical project I did through HNMCP to create and deliver negotiation training in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for the Mennonite Central Committee and its in-country partner, Programme Paix et Réconciliation.

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Clinical Legal Education beyond the Bicentennial

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

A century ago, Harvard Law School’s centennial report offered a brief comment on the role of experiential learning: “Such experiments have been more successful in affording amusement than in substantial benefit to the participants.  A fact trial now and then is well worth while, but only as a relief to the tedium of serious work.”

Today, at the law school’s bicentennial, clinics are firmly established within the law school.  And yet, as traditional forms of legal education continue to account for roughly 90–95% of a typical law student’s credit load, it remains worth clarifying the role that clinics can play within a legal education and how the law school can use them to accomplish more ambitious goals in its third century.

Clinics are celebrated for giving students opportunities to do important public interest work. Indeed, one vital motivation for the first law school clinic, opened by John Bradway at Duke in 1931, was to provide legal aid in North Carolina, where existing resources could not meet the needs of the community. The wave of clinical expansion of the 1960s and 1970s, exemplified by the work of HLS’s own Gary Bellow, similarly emphasized the role of clinics in advancing justice. The need for such public interest work is no smaller today than it was in those earlier moments: basic legal services remain out of reach for many, and the very existence of the Legal Services Corporation is threatened. It is in this capacity that clinics star in the “HLS in the Community” event, to be held in April 2018.

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About Political Dialogue in a Confrontational Culture

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program 

Portrait photo of Oriol Valentí

Oriol Valentí i Vidal ‘17

Last week, images of the Spanish police brutally cracking down on voters in Catalonia’s illegal referendum on secession popped up on computer screens around the world, bringing with them a wave of international attention and unprecedented internal anxiety. 42.34% of eligible voters cast their vote, the majority of whom (90%) supported secession from Spain. Aside from the failed coup d’état in 1981, this represents Spain’s most profound constitutional crisis since democracy was restored in 1978, and remains a hot debate in Catalonia.

After finishing my LL.M. at Harvard Law School a few months ago, I came back to Spain: first to Madrid, and then—coinciding with the referendum for the independence of Catalonia—to Barcelona. However, as much as I was excited to be back home, viewing such extreme polarization first-hand worried me. Although Spanish political culture tends to be confrontational, the current level of social tension has seemed, at least to me, unparalleled.

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Student Spotlight: Corey Linehan ’18

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

Portrait photo of Corey Linehan ’18

Corey Linehan ’18

It is an odd scene: thirty or so strangers gesticulating, nipping at each other, and slowly repositioning their cars along a single-lane road in exurban Missouri. We’re all here to catch our two-minute glimpse of the Great American Eclipse. Parking space is scarce, and everyone wants a spot. Still, we might, with a little creativity squeeze everyone in and preserve the view from our chosen bluff.

This shuffling draws my memory back to the first day of the “Negotiation Workshop.” During the opening plenary, the teaching team highlights how every student has extensive negotiation experience. Here in Lone Elk Park, I see exactly how.

My path to the dispute resolution community at Harvard began just forty miles from this midwestern park. As a high school teacher in north St. Louis County, I witnessed and participated in policy disputes about educational equity and racial justice that drew national attention. I came to law school to study how law shapes conflicts like those. In the “Negotiation Workshop,” I also found the opportunity to explore the human elements that ultimately define them.

Since then, opportunities provided by the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP) have challenged me to take those human questions as seriously as the legal ones. My clinical team, for example, was asked to evaluate and propose revisions to a special education dispute resolution process for Washington, DC public schools. Rachel Krol, our clinical instructor, encouraged us to learn from community members in creative ways: attending a family engagement summit, examining chatter about our client on social media, and more.

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To Dialogue: Moving Towards Conversation About Refugee Resettlement in Maine

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

A team from the student practice organization Harvard Law School Negotiators worked throughout the Spring 2017 semester with Catholic Charities Maine on a new project entitled, “To Dialogue: Moving Towards Conversation About Refugee Resettlement in Maine.”

Mark Tomaier ’17, one of the project leaders, said of the experience, “This has been one of the most meaningful projects I’ve had in law school.” Tomaier led the project alongside Naomi Campbell ’17. In the Fall of 2016 both were students in HNMCP’s advanced course “The Lawyer as Facilitator.” Their work around dialogue and refugee resettlement in Maine this Spring drew heavily upon pedagogical theory in negotiation and facilitation they’d learned in the classroom.

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A Call to Dialogue After Charlottesville

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

As someone working in the field of dispute resolution and committed to the importance of dialogue, I find it difficult to know where to go with the events in Charlottesville. There were actual neo-Nazis in Charlottesville participating in a rally in which someone was killed. The wrongness of white supremacist ideology is certainly not subject to discussion, so what would dialogue even entail? The violent rally and the beliefs expressed by its participants call for simple condemnation.

We must remember that this is not an isolated incident. The racism on display in Charlottesville has been with us all along, and the claims about American identity and heritage made by the far right are currently at the heart of our politics. The extremists carrying weapons and openly advocating white supremacy are distractions—albeit important, dangerous distractions—from the deeper issues running through American history that will continue to poison our politics in the absence of genuine dialogue. Can dialogue about our history accomplish anything? As a dispute resolution practitioner with a previous background as a historian, I remain hopeful, even if recent events give reason for cynicism.

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Harvard Mediation Program Welcomes New Clinical Instructor

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

Catherine Mondell, Clinical Instructor, Harvard Mediation Program

Catherine Mondell, Clinical Instructor, Harvard Mediation Program

The Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP) of Harvard Law School is pleased to announce the addition of a new team member. Catherine Mondell recently joined the staff as Clinical Instructor for the Harvard Mediation Program (HMP), a student practice organization under the auspices of HNMCP.

Cathy will supervise clinical students in the Harvard Mediation Program and work with HMP’s mediators, court liaisons and staff to support continued excellence in the mediation services HMP provides to the community. Alongside her work with HMP, Cathy maintains a private practice which focuses on mediation and arbitration services for complex commercial cases, is an active member of multiple organizations in the Boston area that support and promote dispute resolution alternatives, and has coached and taught mediation and negotiation skills to groups through the Harvard Negotiation Institute at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard, and to graduate students at other area schools.

“The Harvard Mediation Program has a strong commitment to training new mediators, a long-standing track record of providing opportunities for application of mediation skills, and a rich legacy of service to the community,” says Cathy. “I am thrilled to be joining such a fantastic team, and look forward to working with the clinical students as they experience all that the Mediation Program has to offer.

A graduate of Harvard Law School and former Partner at Ropes & Gray, Cathy spent the first 18 years of her legal career successfully litigating business, insurance and securities cases. Throughout that period, she worked with her clients to identify and deploy a wide range of dispute resolution tools, including mediation, arbitration, targeted litigation and structured settlement discussions. As of 2015, Cathy has focused exclusively on work as a mediator, neutral and educator.

“Cathy’s passion for mediation, her keen perspectives as a former litigator and now full-time ADR professional combined with the sensibilities that complement her work, provide a powerful example which students and others in the Mediation Program can learn from and aspire to themselves. It’s exciting to have her on board,” says Maureen (Mo) Griffin, Program Manager at the Harvard Mediation Program.

The Harvard Mediation Program’s (HMP) mission is to enhance the experiences of Harvard Law School students and other members of HMP by providing diverse opportunities to learn, practice, and teach mediation, and to serve the community by promoting effective mediation services.

This mission is accomplished by student board members elected to fulfill a variety of roles, community members, and HMP’s liaisons, who supervise new mediators and provide a constant presence in and connection to the courts that HMP serves.HMP is guided by experienced and dedicated staff members and the Director of the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program.

Negotiating Climate Change: The Perils of “America First”

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

By Clinical Professor of Law Robert C. Bordone

Clinical Professor Robert Bordone Thaddeus R. Beal Clinical Professor of Law, Harvard Law School Director, Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program

Robert Bordone
Thaddeus R. Beal Clinical Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
Director, Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program

Much ink has been spent lamenting President Trump’s decision to withdraw from The Paris Agreement. Political leaders, scientists, environmental policy experts, and even U.S. companies have condemned Trump’s move. More than just promoting ecological and humanitarian disaster, President Trump’s decision hurts the United States from a diplomatic and negotiation perspective.

Though certainly oversimplifying, in broad strokes we might argue that there are two divergent approaches to how to think about negotiation on the international stage. The first approach assumes that building trust, promoting positive relationships and partnering with allies consistently over the long term is worthwhile and even essential to achieving one’s foreign policy goals. This approach means that you stand with your allies, trade across issues, and honor commitments made by your predecessors on behalf of your country. This approach characterized (in large part) the foreign policy approach of former President Obama’s administration.

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Alumnus Spotlight—Toby Berkman ’10

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

Toby Berkman ’10

Toby Berkman ’10

We caught up with Toby Berkman ’10, a two-time HNMCP clinic student, and current dispute resolution professional, for our alumnus spotlight this year.

During his years at Harvard Law School, Berkman also served as a student mediator in the Harvard Mediation Program, as a Teaching Assistant for the Negotiation Workshop, and after graduation, as the first HNMCP Associate (the title has since changed to Fellow). During his year at HNMCP, Berkman co-wrote, edited, and produced the first DVD teaching tool put out by the Clinic, in conjunction with the law firm WilmerHale, “Critical Decisions in Negotiation.” This fall, Berkman served as a facilitator in HNMCP’s newest, soon-to-be-released, DVD teaching tool on facilitated dialogue, Police-Community Dialogue, and this past spring semester, was a Lecturer in the Negotiation Workshop.

HNMCP: Can you trace any particular influences in your life that lead you to pursue the study of negation and dispute resolution at HLS? Given the range of clinic options available at HLS, why did you choose HNMCP?

Toby Berkman: I’d had a couple of hugely formative experiences in the years before law school. First, I started working for the nonprofit Seeds of Peace, and became friends with young people from countries around the world including Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and others. Then I spent a year as a teacher living in Casablanca, Morocco, and felt this really compelling connection to that place and its incredible cultural diversity, and then some time working for Seeds in Jerusalem. I was experiencing all of this in the early 2000s in the context of September 11 and then the Iraq war. I felt this calling to get involved and do something to promote cross-cultural understanding and dialogue. After a stint as a researcher in D.C. (focusing on international peace operations) I came to law school with a vague notion that I wanted to do something “practical” in the “real world” related to conflict resolution. Truth be told I had very little interest in being a lawyer—at least for the long term.

HNMCP was the one community at HLS where I felt totally at home, both with the other students and the instructors, and where I felt like my work really had meaning and was focused in the direction I wanted. As soon as I started working at the clinic I had this feeling like, “these are my people.”

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In Support of Our Art

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

This year’s art contest at the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program brought in over fifty submissions from Harvard Law School, the greater Boston area, and around the world. We received paintings, sculptures, photographs, and poems—some from seasoned artists and some from individuals who were trying their hand at an art submission for the very first time. Dean Martha Minow, Lisa Dealy, and Professor Bob Bordone served as the judging committee for the art contest. They used a set of criteria developed by HLS Negotiators to judge the artwork and select these six winners, whose work is currently featured in the HNMCP suite.

As I have gone around sharing the news about HNMCP’s art contest with friends, others around Harvard University, and various framing stores in the area, I have received a number of raised eyebrows. People are more than a bit surprised to learn that a group specializing in negotiation and mediation at Harvard Law School are spending their time receiving and judging artwork. People were genuinely curious as to why our program is hosting an art contest.

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HNMCP: Fall 2016 Projects

Via the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

Six clinical projects in the fall of 2016 allowed us to: strategize with two very different Ombud’s offices to help them improve their internal dispute resolution services; work with a local housing co-operative on communications and decision-making skills around large communal projects; develop a curriculum on negotiation in a legislative context for an institute whose mission is to educate the public about the role of the Senate in our government; support a government agency to improve stakeholder inclusion among collaborative groups with whom they work; and build an online toolkit for community college students and graduates to improve their salary negotiation skills.

Lyndsi Allsop and Sonam Patel

Lyndsi Allsop and Sonam Patel

Asian Development Bank, Ombudsperson

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) works in partnership with developing member countries to improve lives in Asia and the Pacific through targeted investments. This fall, HNMCP continued earlier work with ADB’s Office of the Ombudsperson to better understand employee needs, perceptions of the Office, and strategies for improving its services both in ADB headquarters in Manila, Philippines, and in its 31 field offices around the world.

Ashleigh Ruggles, Emily Joung, and Jose Alvarez

Ashleigh Ruggles, Emily Joung, and Jose Alvarez

Cornerstone CoHousing

Cornerstone Village Cohousing Community is a 32-unit residential community in North Cambridge. Its meetings are run by consensus and processes are intended to make sure all voices are heard before decisions are made. Cornerstone engaged the Clinic in order to focus specifically on a current conflict in the community, to help map a path forward, and to provide advice on how to build the community’s capacity for conflict management.

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Student Spotlight—Patricia Alejandro ’17

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

Patricia AlejandroIt might seem like a long way from her birth in Cuba to the halls of Harvard Law School, but ever since she read Roger Fisher’s Getting to Yes as a sophomore in college, Patricia Alejandro ’17 had her sights set on law school, as well as Fisher’s legacy, as grown and cultivated by the dispute resolution community at HLS.

At some moment when sitting in an HLSNow training with Prof. Bob Bordone, for the corps of dialogue facilitators he was forming, Alejandro says, “It really hit me that I had achieved what I set out to—I was doing something I loved, something I wanted to do. I love this work and I think a lot about how to take it into the world, build better institutions. How to be better with each other. How to be better in the world.”

We’re so pleased to feature Patricia Alejandro as our Student Spotlight this spring. Not only has she been a student twice in the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP), but she has also served as a Teaching Assistant in the Winter 2017 Negotiation Workshop and as a facilitator for HLSNow and at Alumni Reunion Weekend. She was a student in Bordone’s Advanced Negotiation: Multiparty Negotiation, Group Decision Making, and Teams course, as well as this year’s reading group Political Dialogue in Polarizing Times: Election 2016. She sub-cited for the Harvard Negotiation Law Review, mediated with the Harvard Mediation Program, and was part of the Harvard Law School Negotiators student group, working this spring on the Religious Communities Project. We sat down with Alejandro in a rare free hour right before exams.

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Reflections on the Intersection of Alternative Dispute Resolution and Activism

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

Grande Lum and Bob Mnookin - HNLR Symposium

Grande Lum, Prof. Robert Mnookin, and Prof. Robert Bordone

By Lisa Dicker ’17 and Amrita Narine ’17

On the surface, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and activism may appear to be in tension with each other. The former generally seeks to resolve conflicts through collaborative agreements, while the latter is often a public, vigorous campaign for one side. However, despite their apparent differences, there is significant overlap between these two fields and room for exchanging ideas.

The Harvard Negotiation Law Review’s 22nd annual symposium, “Reflections on the Intersection of Alternative Dispute Resolution and Activism,” explored opportunities for sharing and cross-fertilization between these fields. Practitioners of ADR, activists, and those who straddle both worlds came together to explore the manner in which the fields oppose each other, complement each other, and can learn from each other.

The Honorable Grande Lum ‘91 gave the symposium’s keynote address. Mr. Lum is the Director of the Divided Community Project at the Moritz College of Law at Ohio University. He spoke about his current work as well as his previous experiences as the Director of the Community Relations Service (CRS) at the United States Department of Justice. CRS focuses on community conflicts and preventing and resolving tensions that result from differences in identity, including race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and disability.

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Warm Welcome to Jordana, Daneiris, Alyssa, and Christina

The Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs extends a warm welcome to Daneiris Heredia-Perez (Administrative Director) of Harvard Defenders, Christina Haines (Program Assistant) of the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP), Alyssa Chan (Program Coordinator) of the Food Law and Policy Clinic, and Jordana Arias (Program Administrator) of the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program.

Jordana Arias

Jordana Arias, Program Administrator, Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic

Jordana Arias, Program Administrator, Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic

Jordana Arias is the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic’s Program Administrator. She recently relocated from Washington, D.C. where she worked at the University of the District of Columbia – David A. Clark School of Law for nearly ten years. While there, she also served as a community organizer and volunteered for several pro-immigrant non-profit organizations and faith-based groups where she worked closely with at-risk communities. She is passionate about helping people – especially those in underprivileged and disenfranchised populations.

Daneiris Heredia-Perez, Administrative Director, Harvard Defenders

Daneiris Heredia-Perez, Administrative Director, Harvard Defenders

Daneiris Heredia-Perez

Before coming to Harvard Law School Daneiris was a Team Lead at Boston Medical Center in the Nursing Staffing Office, supporting the hospital with RNs, CNAs and Unit Coordinators to make sure the floors were staffed safely. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Project Management at Boston University. She graduated from Manhattanville College in 2011 with a double major in Communications and Graphic Design.


Alyssa Chan, Program Coordinator, Food Law and Policy Clinic

Alyssa Chan

Alyssa Chan became involved with the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic while still an undergrad, working as a summer intern and, later, as a Research Assistant. In January 2017, she joined the clinic full-time as Program Coordinator. She first became interested in sustainable food systems while working on an organic farm and winery in Argentina. Since then, her focus has shifted to food justice issues, including food access, labor in the food system, and equitable access to land and capital for socially disadvantaged farmers. Alyssa graduated from Harvard College in December 2016 with a joint degree in Chemistry and Earth and Planetary Sciences, and a minor in the Comparative Study of Religion.

Christina Haines, Program Assistant, Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

Christina Haines, Program Assistant, Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

Christina Haines

Prior to joining HNMCP, Christina worked as Manager of the Reimagine Learning Fund at New Profit, a national venture philanthropy firm, where she managed the fund’s communications and engagement with a network of  200+ organizations and supported strategic priorities of the fund including convenings and investment selection. Prior to that, Christina had a 10-year career at Harvard, most recently as the Associate Director for Policy and Institutional Outreach of the Harvard Global Health Institute, a University-wide initiative focused on advancing global health curricula and experiential learning and catalyzing innovative cross-disciplinary research. She managed new initiatives and pilots, including large-scale academic events, fellowships and awards, research partnerships, workshops and seminars. Christina holds a B.A. from Marist College in economics, and an M.L.A. with a concentration in government from Harvard Extension School.

Simulating the Apocalypse

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

Zombie Apocalypse“U.S. Defense Taskforce,” a newly released negotiation simulation from the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP), explores group decision-making processes in a multi-party negotiation. Lisa Dicker ’17 and Kathleen Kelly ’17 of the Harvard Law School Negotiators wrote this fast-paced simulation under the supervision of Sara del Nido Budish ‘13, HNMCP Clinical Instructor and Lecturer on Law.

The case opens when the zombie apocalypse has begun. Participants are part of a small committee in the U.S. Department of State entrusted to select the four people who will lead the effort in preparing for, surviving, and defeating the zombies. The Director of the Department of State is scheduled to hold a press conference to tell the American public who their leaders will be, and the participants’ committee has only 20 minutes to come to a unanimous decision and give the Director the four names.

U.S. Defense Taskforce emphasizes two crucial elements of multi-party negotiations: criteria and group process. First, the element of criteria is placed at the forefront of the case pedagogy. Participants have a list of seven candidates’ biographies, detailing each candidate’s age, life accomplishments, and unique qualities. Their committee’s deliberation process, as well as the debrief afterwards, challenges the participants to think through their reasons for choosing one candidate over another and what their criteria was (or wasn’t) for determining who should lead the United States.

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Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program celebrates 10th anniversary and growing impact

Via HLS News

Dispute Systems Design panel photo

Credit: Tom Fitzsimmons
Lecturer on Law Rachel Viscomi ’01 (left) moderated the day’s first panel, “Dispute Systems Design: Expanding Horizons.” Panelists included Seanan Fong, HDS ’16, consultant and founder of Cylinder Project and a solo ombudsman to a major tech company; Stacie Nicole Smith, senior mediator and director of Workable Peace at the Consensus Building Institute; Stephan Sonnenberg ’06, faculty Member and clinic expert at the Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law in Bhutan; and (not pictured) Joseph B. (Josh) Stulberg, Michael E. Moritz Chair in Alternative Dispute Resolution at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

In 2006, the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP) opened its doors with a handful of students pursuing independent clinical work.

This past November, HNMCP celebrated its 10th anniversary and the clinic’s evolution into a robust program of global clinical work in dispute systems design, innovative pedagogy around teamwork, and expanded course offerings in multiparty negotiation, group decision-making, teams, and facilitation. Today, HNMCP counts 260 current and former students and 84 clients from the United States and around the world. Courses offered by HNMCP have also expanded to include deeper dives into advanced skills such as multi-party negotiation and facilitation.

The clinic celebrated its growth, success, and its anniversary on Nov. 5, with a public symposium, hosted by Robert Bordone ’97, Thaddeus R. Beal Clinical Professor of Law and Director of HNMCP, and Rachel Viscomi ’01, Assistant Director and Clinical Instructor at HNMCP. The symposium was both retrospective and prospective, addressing the clinic’s foundational focus on dispute-systems design, as well as looking at the role of facilitation and political dialogue.

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Student Spotlight—Lisa Dicker ’17

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

Lisa Dicker“Lisa, you are great at arguing! You should be a lawyer.”

While growing up this was a statement I frequently heard. It was true. I was excellent at arguing. I loved the thrill of the heightened emotions, the adrenaline of crafting my next point, and the satisfaction of watching my opponent squirm. What I didn’t love was the aftermath—the relationships that were damaged, the pain of not being heard, and the emptiness when a resolution was not reached.

In undergrad I took a step away from what seemed to be my predestined path of law school and studied international relations and Asian studies. My international relations classes told me that the drivers of conflict were political and economic power, but my Asian studies classes showed me that religion, history, culture, pride, fear, and reputation all also had an impact on conflict and its resolution. I found my way back on the path to law school because I wanted to explore international conflict resolution as a practitioner who bridged the gap between the perceived drivers of conflict and the underlying factors that also impact it.

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Celebrating 10 years of the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Program

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

HNMCP Staff Photo 2016-17On November 5th, 2016, we will host a gala event to mark the 10th anniversary of the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program. The event will bring together students, faculty, clients, dispute resolution practitioners and others to celebrate the first decade of the HNMCP’s work and to lay the groundwork for the second.

The events of the day will kick off with an introduction by HNMCP Director, Professor Bob Bordone and Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow. We will offer two panel discussions in the morning. The first, Dispute Systems Design: Expanding Horizons, will bring together Professor Joseph Stulberg, Stacie Smith, Stephan Sonnenberg ’06, and Seanan Fong HDS’16, to discuss the ways in which dispute systems design principles are being used outside of the traditional organizational context. The second panel, Political Dialogue: Promise and Perils of Facilitation, will focus on the role of facilitated dialogue in bringing people together across ideological divides. Heather Scheiwe Kulp, Suzanne Ghais, Liz Joyner, Fr. Josh Thomas and Toby Berkman ’10 will share their thoughts with the audience.

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Building Capacity Without Losing Capacity: Legal Change and Dispute Resolution in Bhutan

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

Stephan Sonnenberg '06

Stephan Sonnenberg ’06

In the spring of 2016 HNMCP engaged with the newly forming Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law (JSW Law) to examine the practices of local, traditional dispute resolvers, and to help JSW Law think through how formal judicial institutions, which have been the subject of large-scale capacity building initiatives following Bhutan’s transition to democracy in 2008, can complement, rather than supplant, traditional modes of dispute resolution.

The project came to us through former HNMCP Clinical Instructor Stephan Sonnenberg ‘06. Stephan was appointed to the role of inaugural Faculty Member and Clinic Expert at JSW Law in order to design and implement all aspects of experiential legal education at the law school, scheduled to open in 2017.

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Political dialogue in polarizing times

Via HLS News

Exploring the possibilities of civil dialogue

Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP) Director and Clinical Professor Robert Bordone and HNMCP Assistant Director and Lecturer Rachel Viscomi recently participated in a Harvard University Facebook live talk on how to have a conversation about the election and other contentious topics without alienating your family, friends and people in your social network. Bordone and Viscomi are leading a reading group this semester for Harvard Law students on how to create civil and meaningful dialogue between those with differing and competing views on political issues.

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