Law School News

STCL Houston Receives National Recognition for Innovative Teaching of Negotiation Skills from Bloomberg Law School Innovation Program

Professor Debra Berman and the Frank Evans Center for Conflict Resolution (FECCR) at South Texas College of Law Houston received national recognition this week when the Bloomberg Law School Innovation Program honored the law school’s Inter-School Negotiation Practicum.

The practicum, developed by Professor Berman, was a top-scoring submission in the Innovation & Pedagogy category. More than 60 law schools from across the country submitted applications to Bloomberg Law’s inaugural Law School Innovation Program, including Harvard, Baylor, Texas Tech, St. Mary’s, and Emory.

During the Inter-School Negotiation Practicum each semester, STCL Houston serves as the hub and coordinator for a cross-school, one-on-one negotiation exercise utilizing actual court documents from a pending lawsuit. Participants from each law school are paired up with a student from another law school in another city (or even country) and must negotiate via email, phone, and video over a one-month period. After the exercise, students complete a substantive post-negotiation questionnaire that allows them to assess their experience and identify ways to improve in future negotiations.

The success of STCL Houston’s Inter-School Negotiation Practicum is due to Professor Berman’s insight that a more realistic approach to negotiation training is necessary when designing effective pedagogical experiences. Since the practicum’s inception in 2019, nearly 2,400 students from 45 law schools have participated, with some 400-500 students participating each semester.

“We are honored the practicum has been recognized nationally as an innovative way to teach negotiation skills to law students,” said Berman, director of the FECCR. “Students appreciate the opportunity to enhance their skills in an environment that more closely aligns with practice.”

“Our law school is well-known for using innovative educational methods to prepare exceptional attorneys who are ready to practice law,” said STCL Houston President and Dean Michael F. Barry. “We are proud of Professor Berman and the Frank Evans Center for Conflict Resolution for attracting national recognition for innovative teaching at STCL Houston.”

South Texas’ Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program regularly receives national accolades. In the past decade, STCL Houston students have achieved 23 first-place national and international alternative dispute resolution wins in ADR competitions. The law school, through the work of the Frank Evans Center for Conflict Resolution, was ranked in 2021 as a “Top Law School for ADR” by preLaw magazine and was ranked No. 15 in ADR by U.S. News.

The center serves as the focal point for dispute resolution education within STCL Houston. The Frank Evans Center educates students in the theoretical foundations and practical applications of dispute resolution processes such as negotiation, mediation, and arbitration.

The Bloomberg Law School Innovation Program seeks to “identify, recognize, and connect law school faculty, staff and administrators who are pioneering educational innovations…. Through the Law School Innovation Program, we seek to acknowledge these innovators while raising overall awareness of innovation in legal education.”

For more information on STCL Houston’s nationally acclaimed Frank Evans Center for Conflict Resolution program including the Interschool Negotiation Practicum, please visit https://www.stcl.edu/academics/center-for-conflict-resolution/