Thaddeus R. Beal Clinical Professor of Law
Director, Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program and Rachel Viscomi
Lecturer on Law, Harvard Law School
Assistant Director, Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program
This fall semester was a notable one for both of us, for different reasons and motivated by different circumstances. Bob is preparing to take his first sabbatical after sixteen years of continuous teaching in both semesters; by contrast, Rachel embarked upon teaching her first law school class. For entirely different reasons then, both of us felt some anxiety about the semester. For Rachel, with years of experience teaching corporate executives but new to teaching a semester-long class for law students, her attitude was one of cautious optimism. For Bob, ready for a much needed break, his attitudee was, “Power through these three months and then a break is on the way!”
Who would have thought that now, looking back three months later, we would be thinking of the semester gone by as one of the most energizing, rewarding, and exciting experiences of our careers to date?
This year, building on the work of Bob (with the invaluable help of our colleague Heather Kulp) in the Fall of 2013, we offered for the second time (with the indispensable assistance of our colleague Sara del Nido) an expanded version of the Lawyer as Facilitator Workshop. Our purpose in designing the class was to capacity-build law students to facilitate genuine dialogue around areas of deep difference in our politics, community, churches, and even within the legal profession. We also identified a broader need to train law students in how to collaborate more effectively with each other working in groups, manage multi-stakeholder processes, and run strategy and planning meetings. The Lawyer as Facilitator Workshop convenes participants in dialogue groups related to abortion, university policies around Title IX and harassment, and trigger warnings. We also partnered with Harvard University’s largest union and its labor relations team to facilitate brainstorming sessions on topics that have consistently been points of contention in official labor negotiations.
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