Inter-School Negotiation Practicum

South Texas College of Law Houston is proud to announce that 368 students from 15 law schools are participating this spring in our Inter-School Negotiation Practicum. Lawyers negotiate primarily via email/phone with clients and opposing counsel they do not necessarily know. Therefore, the purpose of this project is to provide students the opportunity to enhance their skills training in an environment that more closely aligns with practice.  Participants will have the opportunity to engage in a realistic negotiation simulation over one month with a student from another law school in another city (or even country).  For more information, please call 713-646-2997 or email Debra Berman at dberman@stcl.edu.

Thank you to the participating law schools!
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Indiana University
John Marshall
Lincoln Memorial
Marquette
Ohio Northern
Pace
South TX College of Law Houston
Southern Illinois
St. John’s
Suffolk
Texas A&M
University of Arkansas
University of CA Hastings
University of Florida
University of Houston
University of Laverne
University of Manitoba
University fo Michigan
University of Missouri
University of North Texas Dallas
University of Oregon
University of Saskatchewan
University of Tennessee

FAQs for Students

Who is eligible to participate?

Any student with 30+ credit hours

When will this exercise take place?

Students will have from March 2nd through March 31st to complete the negotiation.

Who will I be negotiating with?

We will pair you with a student from another law school. On March 2nd, you will receive your partner’s contact information along with the relevant pleadings and information from your client.

What type of fact pattern will I be negotiating?

This spring, all participants will do a pre-litigation negotiation based on an actual pending court case. Even if you are not interested in pursuing a litigation career, this will still provide an opportunity for you to practice relevant legal communication skills.

How will the negotiation be conducted? 

There are no requirements except that you must use email, phone, and video conferencing at lease once.  You do not need to complete the negotiation entirely within those three contacts with your partner. You have the entire month to negotiate and may communicate as many times with your partner as you wish. On average during the fall semester, students communicated with their partner 7.5 times.

Do I have to draft up the agreement at the end of the exercise?

No. You must simply reach an agreement with your partner by March 31st and then fill out a post-negotiation questionnaire that we will send you.

Must I be enrolled in an ADR class to participate?

No, you do not need to be enrolled in a class. Any student may elect to participate and there is also no pre-requisite that you have any previous negotiation training. This is designed to be a fairly straightforward exercise that any student, regardless of training, can participate in. If you are not enrolled in an ADR class and you would like to sign up, all you need to do is fill out the application.

Does there need to be a faculty contact/advisor at my school in order for me to participate?

Ideally, yes. We strongly encourage all participants to debrief with an ADR/Negotiation professor following the exercise. If there is no one at your school willing and/or able to do so, please let us know and we will try to pair you with one.

What happens if my partner and I do not reach an agreement?

Technically, nothing. However, the goal is for this to closely resemble “real-life.” When lawyers represent clients, there is almost always some form of a deadline. Therefore, we suggest doing your absolute best to reach a deal within the allotted time frame.

Negotiator Commitments

  • Negotiators must use the following three modes of communication at least once: email, phone, and video conferencing (FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, etc.) Otherwise, you may communicate as many times and in whatever mode you wish.
  • Initial correspondence must be made by noon (CST) on Monday, March 9th. If you fail to correspond with your partner by that time, you will be removed from the practicum.
  • Negotiators agree to take this exercise seriously and participate in good faith. If you cannot commit to doing so, please do not sign up.
  • All communications with your partner are to remain confidential.
  • The deadline to reach an agreement is March 31st at 5:00pm CST.
  • Once you complete the exercise, you agree to submit answers to a brief questionnaire.
  • Have fun!

Registration for Spring 2020 is now closed.  If you have any questions, please email Debra Berman at dberman@stcl.edu.

We are pleased to share some post-negotiation feedback from students that participated during the fall of 2019.

  • This was incredibly rewarding in that it felt like a real life situation. I felt that I could more acceptably “get into the role” with someone I did not know than I can in some simulations with my friends.
  • I liked this exercise because it simulated how negotiations actually happen in the real world.
  • This was a very beneficial experience. I felt that it gave us an opportunity to work with someone we did not know and was much more of a “real-world” experience.
  • This experience felt more realistic than the class negotiation I participated in this semester. It felt more realistic because I was actually communicating with an individual I did not know. I imagine this would be more in line with working with an opposing party’s counsel that I am not familiar with. Also, having to schedule times to talk in order to work through the agreement felt more in line with actual dispute resolution practice as an attorney.
  • This experience was much more real and it felt like there were actual things at stake.
  • This felt more real because I wasn’t familiar with the person doing it. I couldn’t just look across the table to see his fact pattern. We had to communicate effectively to actually figure out each other’s goals. It was more work, but the experience was more genuine.
  • I found this to be more realistic in that I was negotiating with a unknown person and using technology to facilitate. It was easier to take it more seriously and practice professional tone and skills.
  • This exercise allowed more flexibility and allowed me to feel like an attorney. This was a real-world practical exercise with the scheduling, October 31st deadline, and different forms of communication involved/required.
  • Partnering with someone from a different school required that I treat the situation with more thought and preparedness.
  • I thought this was a good exercise, particularly because of how it differed from our typical face-to-face experiences in class. My classmates and I have become so adept at working with each other, especially in close settings, that it was nice (in a challenging way) to have to wait on someone sometimes.
  • This felt more real because I didn’t know him and he was from a different location which is what would probably be more likely when I am practicing.
  • I enjoyed the realistic side of having to incorporate multiple forms of communication. It made the exercise feel like a real world exercise.
  • I believe that this was a fun, entertaining, and educational exercise. I definitely enjoyed this exercise.
  • I really enjoyed this exercise and am glad that I participated. Negotiating will be something I will do on a frequent basis in my area of practice. I just wish this would have been made available to our school when I first started
  • It honestly felt like we were both actual attorneys doing this for real. Communicate, communicate, communicate. My partner had things going on early in the month and I had things come up at the end of the month but we were able to find time that worked for us because we communicated effectively
  • I felt that this exercise gave me an opportunity to get comfortable gaining confidence in discussing legal matters with someone I am not already familiar with.
  • This was a unique experience that provided a better understanding of how negotiations take place. Having a deadline and certain requirements to meet made the process seem more realistic.
  • This was a great experience and I feel good knowing how a negotiation with a stranger will look like in the future
  • It was valuable to have the opportunity to work with someone from a different school in a different time zone. Overall I found this experience to be worthwhile.
  • I appreciated the exercise and would highly recommend it for future students studying negotiation.
  • It was a good experience to learn how to negotiate properly over the phone.
  • It provided a unique opportunity to test skills across different methods of communication with a stranger, which resembles the “real world” of negotiation more closely than a classroom, or a moot court exercise, where your partner is someone you regularly interact with. This exercise felt less restricted in that faltering or making errors felt less consequential – great for someone new trying to practice these skills.
  • Great experience working with students from other schools. Thank you for creating this opportunity.