Thursday, February 5, 2009


Welcome to the blog for this semester's Lawyering Process course, Interviewing, Counseling & Negotiation. My goal for the forum is simple: I want all of us to reflect on the coursework, pool our ideas, and generally grapple with the subject matter.

Please use the blog to draw the class's attention to news stories, articles, websites, and other blogs you deem worthy of note, and to comment on the assignments and in-class discussions. Because we meet in the evening, after you've already put in a hard day's work, you may find that your most brilliant insights come to you after class. This is an opportunity to say what you would have said if you hadn't been so tired/hungry/whatever and to keep the conversation going between classes.

Without wishing to chill your expressiveness, I want you to know that traditional academic etiquette applies. Keep your remarks respectful and to the point, avoid profanity and personal attacks, and only post messages that you would have no qualms seeing on the front page of the New York Times. Before clicking "post" ask yourself whether -- several months or years from now -- you would be happy for potential employers to read what you just wrote.


  1. In case anyone is looking for further reading on negotiation, a good alternative to "Getting to Yes" may be "Bargaining for Advantage" by G. Richard Shell. My employer, a large casualty insurer, handed out copies to each of its claims adjusters nationwide. When deciding which book to use, they looked at "Getting to Yes" as a possibility, but went in favor of this one. Unlike "Getting to Yes" which tends to be more optimistic in its view of negotiations, I feel "Bargaining" is a bit more realistic. Its chapter on leverage (which begins with a quote from Al Capone and contains an interesting anecdote involving Donald Trump) gives more of a Sun Tzu approach, rather than utilizing Roger Fisher's feel-good methods.

    Although it would be nice if all negotiations involved meeting the other's needs and finding a solution that both parties will be happy with, it's not as realistic. Often, the ideal settlement is the one which neither party is truly happy with.

  2. Another book in this genre that I would recommend to those who are more 'math/science' thinkers is Robert Cialdini's "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion." He's a psych professor. The approach that he takes is more formulaic and grounded in the hard sciences.

    Even if you're not inclined to psychology, it provides great examples of real-life application of the theories.... like if a jewelery store wants to sell a certain item that it hasn't been able to get rid of, it could make sense for them to actually increase the price of that item because consumers in a jewelry store generally associate a premium price with quality, prestige, uniqueness, etc.

    I'm definitely a sceptic of genres like these. I think of the analogy that reading a book on golf probably won't help me actually shoot any better. A lot of these skills are intrinsic, but it's a very quick and easy read that 'clicked' inside my brain and helps to delineate the processes that occur in real life - I checked amazon and 227/281 ratings are 5/5 stars so I suppose I'm not the only one. Feel free to borrow it from me.

  3. For those who are unfamiliar with the Washington, D.C. judge I referenced in our discussion last night, and would like a good laugh, here are a couple links:

    This goes to show that the court system is not to be used for personal vendettas or to make a spectacle of oneself. The judge effectively turned what should have been a simple bailment (or perhaps conversion) issue into a $67,000,000 demand.

    The court's decision can be found here:

    For the fast and easy version of all this, Wikipedia's entry is here: