By Lisa Dicker, J.D. ’17 and Katie Kelly, J.D. ’17
HLS Negotiators has been a pivotal part of our experience at HLS. We both joined Negotiators the first semester of 1L to learn more about the field of dispute resolution, and we quickly realized that regardless of what career path we ended up following, the skills of negotiation, effective communication, and deal-making would be essential. Because we see this skillset as key to all law students, as board elections approached at the end of our 1L year, we made the decision to run for the Co-President positions with the purpose of expanding the work of Negotiators. Negotiators takes on client projects on a semester or yearly basis, so there is a unique opportunity for leaders in Negotiators to bring in projects that they are interested in leading, and the staff of the Harvard Negotiation Mediation Clinical Program provides student-leaders with guidance and support to make our ideas become realities.
As Co-Presidents we were responsible for the overall function of the organization, training new members, building community, communicating with client project leaders, and overseeing the budget. We identified an interest in Negotiators becoming more involved with the greater Boston community, especially youth. We created and co-led a client project team that designed and delivered a coaching program for local high school students to learn an introduction to interpersonal negotiation and effective communication. In April of our 2L year, we brought over 20 students of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School’s peer mediation program to HLS for our 8-hour coaching program. This allowed Negotiators members to engage and form relationships with the community. It also allowed us to use the skills we have developed at HLS through Negotiators to help build a foundation for effective communication in high school students, shifting their perspectives about how to approach interpersonal negotiations and relationships.
Serving as Co-Presidents and as client project leaders gave us the opportunity to deepen our knowledge of dispute resolution theory and practice while also gaining experience in direct client service, building community relationships, leading peer teams, and managing internal structures. Through Negotiators and our other ADR involvement at HLS, we’ve been struck by how this work transcends substance areas, fields, cultures, and ages. From high school students to lawyers to diplomats, the skill set learned and taught by Negotiators is needed in all aspects of life and work. As a Student Practice Organization, HLS Negotiators hopes to help members of the HLS and Boston communities build and hone these skills to positively influence how we engage with the world.