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Understanding Real-World Negotiation through Classroom Simulations

Alli Gerkman Posted in Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers®

Professor John Lande of the University of Missouri School of Law gives students a realistic and comprehensive perspective on legal negotiation through a semester-long simulated experience in his Negotiation course. In this second or third year elective, students build upon a required first-year course, entitled Lawyering: Problem-Solving Dispute Resolution, which exposes them to the fundamental concepts of legal negotiation.

Lande describes his course as unique and particularly relevant to the legal profession because, unlike most “single-stage” negotiation simulations used in law school, he uses multi-layered six-step negotiation hypotheticals to walk students through the entire negotiation process. In a simulated formulation of a business partnership agreement, as well as simulated probate and divorce disputes, students must conduct initial client interviews, complete fact investigations, conduct legal research, and work with their counterpart lawyers to negotiate resolutions. The course integrates several theories of negotiation into the curriculum, such as positional and interest-based negotiation.

The course and its design has several objectives. Lande seeks to increase student understanding of negotiation approaches and encourages students to reflect on and thoroughly process the various negotiation techniques, goals, tactics, and outcomes. Students also enhance their practical negotiation skills and become better prepared for practice in the real world. In his course, Lande advocates for the importance of teaching legal negotiation skills in law school:

Law schools need to do an especially good job of teaching negotiation because it is a significant part of the work of virtually all practicing lawyers, regardless of whether they handle civil or criminal matters or whether they do litigation or transactional work. Faculty can help students develop their professional identities through simulated experiences showing how negotiation fits into legal practice.

The full Negotiation course portfolio is available online, including teaching objectives and outcomes, application tools, videos, course materials, and student work.