Robert C. Bordone

Thaddeus R. Beal Clinical Professor of Law

Director, Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinic

Biography

ROBERT C. BORDONE is the Thaddeus R. Beal Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the Founding Director of the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program. He teaches several courses at Harvard Law School including the school’s flagship Negotiation Workshop. Bob also teaches in the Harvard Negotiation Institute and the Harvard Program on Negotiation’s Senior Executive Education seminars.

In 2007, Bob received The Albert Sacks-Paul Freund Teaching Award at Harvard Law School, presented annually to a member of the Harvard Law School faculty for teaching excellence, mentorship of students, and general contributions to the life of the Law School. He was a finalist for the same award in 2012 and 2013. In 2010 the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR) awarded Bob its Problem Solving in the Law School Curriculum Award for his innovative work in creating and building the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program. In 2012 and 2013, Bob was selected by the graduating class as one of three Harvard Law School faculty members to deliver a “Last Lecture” to the class prior to graduation. 

His research interests include the design and implementation of dispute resolution systems, the development of a problem-solving curriculum in law schools, and ADR ethics. Bob is the co-author of two books: Designing Systems and Processes for Managing Disputes (Aspen, 2013) and The Handbook of Dispute Resolution (Jossey-Bass, 2005). The Handbook of Dispute Resolution was awarded the 2005 Book Award from the National Institute for Advanced Conflict Resolution, awarded to a book published in the United States that shows the best promise of promoting and contributing to the field of conflict resolution. He has also published articles in leading dispute resolution journals including the Harvard Negotiation Law Review, the Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution, Negotiation, and Negotiation Journal. Bob’s writing and commentary have appeared in various print and broadcast media outlets including The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, CNN’s "The Situation Room", and BBC Radio. In addition he has created many negotiation role simulations and videos available through the Harvard Program on Negotiation Clearinghouse and the Harvard Case Studies Project.

Bob serves on a variety of advisory boards. He is the Associate Editor of the Negotiation Journaland a member of its Editorial Advisory Board, a member of the advisory board of the Harvard Mediation Program, a member of the Program on Negotiation Executive Committee, and Faculty Adviser to several student groups at HLS, including: the Harvard Mediation Program, the Harvard Negotiation Law Review, Harvard Negotiators, HLS Lambda, Harvard Catholic Student Organization, and the Consortium for Global Leadership. In addition, he serves on the Board of Visitors for the William Jewett Tucker Foundation at Dartmouth College.

As a professional facilitator and conflict resolution consultant, Bob works with individual and corporate clients across a spectrum of industries. He specializes in dispute systems design and in assisting individuals and groups seeking to manage conflicts in highly sensitive, emotional, or difficult situations. His corporate clients have included Premera Blue Cross, Health Net, Gap, Inc., Fidelity Investments, Nestlé, Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, Exelon, and Microsoft. In addition, he has worked on projects with nonprofit, educational, governmental and cultural institutions such as the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Massachusetts General Hospital, Princeton Regional Schools, Dartmouth College, Fort Wayne, Indiana Schools, the U.S. Department of Justice, the United Way, the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Seeds of Peace, and the Vienna School of Economics and Business Administration.

He has also taught negotiation to attorneys at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the National Association of Realtors, the Bordeaux School of Business, and the international law firms of Weil, Gotshal, & Manges, LLP, Freshfields, Braukhaus, & Deringer, Lowenstein, Sandler, LLP, Crowell & Moring, LLP, Shearman & Sterling, LLP, and Clifford Chance, LLP.

Prior to coming to Harvard, Bob clerked for the Honorable George A. O’Toole, Jr. of the United States District Court for Massachusetts. He has also worked at the Washington D.C.-based law firm of Crowell & Moring, the New York-based law firm of Cravath, Swaine, & Moore, the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Boston Consulting Group.

Bob is a summa cum laude graduate of Dartmouth College where he majored in Government and a cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School where his coursework focused on negotiation, mediation, and dispute resolution. He is a member of the bars of New York, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia.

As the Director of HNMCP, Bob is responsible for the overall functioning of the clinic, and directly supervises some of the clinical projects.

Areas of Interest

Robert C. Bordone & Rachel A. Viscomi, The Wicked Problem of Rethinking Negotiation Teaching, 31 Negot. J. 65 (2015).
Categories:
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
,
Legal Profession
,
Civil Practice & Procedure
Sub-Categories:
Dispute Resolution
,
Negotiation & Alternative Dispute Resolution
,
Legal Education
,
Clinical Legal Education
Type: Article
Abstract
This essay reviews the four-volume series "Rethinking Negotiation Teaching (RNT)," which was launched in 2007 and invited negotiation scholars and practitioners to join together to re-imagine contemporary negotiation pedagogy.
Nancy H. Rogers, Robert C. Bordone, Frank E. A. Sander & Craig A. McEwen, Designing Systems and Processes for Managing Disputes (Wolters Kluwer L. & Bus. 2013).
Categories:
Legal Profession
,
Civil Practice & Procedure
Sub-Categories:
Dispute Resolution
,
Negotiation & Alternative Dispute Resolution
,
Legal Education
Type: Book
Abstract
The first book of its kind, Designing Systems and Processes for Managing Disputes provides a hands-on interdisciplinary approach rich with problems and exercises that have wide-ranging practical applications. This ground-breaking text employs six real-life case studies and many other examples to engage readers and to tech how to design and implement a process or system that will work to resolve and prevent disputes where traditional processes fail.
Robert C. Bordone, Tobias C. Berkman & Sara E. del Nido, The Negotiation Within: The Impact of Internal Conflict Over Identity and Role on Across-The-Table Negotiations, 2014 J. Disp. Resol. 175 (2014).
Categories:
Legal Profession
,
Civil Practice & Procedure
Sub-Categories:
Dispute Resolution
,
Negotiation & Alternative Dispute Resolution
,
Clinical Legal Education
,
Legal Services
,
Legal Education
Type: Article
Abstract
This article argues that negotiators' experiences of internal conflict over their identity and role -- what we term "the negotiation within" -- has a significant impact on across-the-table negotiations in the legal profession and in business. This impact has been mostly overlooked by the literature on negotiation, which focuses on strategic, structural, and psychological barriers to negotiated agreements that are divorced from the real, internal experiences of most negotiators. The article analyzes the impact and suggests a typology for naming and understanding internal conflict. It concludes with a three-stage prescription on how to manage such conflicts described as "mirror work," "chair work," and "table work."
Robert C. Bordone & Chad M. Carr, Critical Decisions in Negotiation: A New Video Resource for Teaching Negotiation, 29 Negot. J. 463 (2013).
Categories:
Legal Profession
,
Civil Practice & Procedure
Sub-Categories:
Dispute Resolution
,
Negotiation & Alternative Dispute Resolution
,
Legal Education
,
Clinical Legal Education
Type: Article
Abstract
Negotiation teachers have many goals. Improving a student's skills of observation, analysis, and diagnosis, and building his or her capacity to translate theory to practice are often among the most important of these. The Critical Decisions in Negotiation video project seeks to advance these goals. The video features four sets of professionals negotiating a simulation, and then debriefing key parts of the negotiation afterward with Professor Robert Bordone to reveal the thought processes that motivated particular behavioral moves. Bordone provides commentary after each sequence to connect theory to practice. The video project is organized around three broad themes — openings and process, dealing with difficult tactics, and active listening and effective assertion. Key features include a detailed teaching note, unscripted professionals in action, and unvarnished reviews by the negotiators themselves after the fact. The method employed by the Critical Decisions in Negotiation video represents a valuable new pedagogical tool for negotiation instructors and students alike.
Robert C. Bordone, Legal Comment: The Lawyer as Bias Buffer or Bias Aggravator, in Ideology, Psychology, and Law 447 (Jon Hanson ed., Oxford Univ. Press 2012).
Categories:
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
,
Legal Profession
,
Civil Practice & Procedure
Sub-Categories:
Dispute Resolution
,
Negotiation & Alternative Dispute Resolution
,
Law & Behavioral Sciences
,
Law & Mind Sciences
,
Legal Education
,
Clinical Legal Education
Type: Book
Abstract
Chapter Summary: This chapter explores how the interdisciplinary study of law and psychology can help lawyers better analyze and diagnose the entirety of a dispute and, thereby, provide optimal support and representation to his or her clients in legal and ADR proceedings.
Robert C. Bordone, Winning in the New Century Means Persuading, Global Brief (Oct. 13, 2010).
Categories:
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
,
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
Military, War, & Peace
,
Executive Office
,
National Security Law
,
International Law
,
Foreign Relations
,
Treaties & International Agreements
Type: Other
Abstract
Persuasion is the ability to convince another to pursue (or refrain from pursuing) a particular course of action because it meets both one’s own and the other side’s interests. Those who are likely to thrive in this new international arena where militaries and money are of limited value are those who will be most able to harness the power of persuasion to advance their ends.
Robert C. Bordone, Teaching Law Students to Design Dispute Resolution Systems, Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School: Negotiation Pedagogy (June 1, 2008).
Categories:
Civil Practice & Procedure
,
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
Dispute Resolution
,
Negotiation & Alternative Dispute Resolution
,
Mediation
,
Clinical Legal Education
,
Legal Education
Type: Other
Abstract
This article describes how Professor Bordone developed an approach to teaching law students to function as dispute process architects – as creative innovators of institutional and organizational systems for managing and resolving conflicts from a problem-solving orientation. This initiative came from what he saw as a need for the legal academy to expose students to some of the guiding principles for the successful design, implementation, and evaluation of dispute management systems and thereby graduate lawyers who are better prepared for the challenges they will face in their professional practice.
Robert C. Bordone, Dealing with a Spoiler? Negotiate Around the Problem, 10 Negot.: The Newsl. of the Harv. Progam on Negot., no. 1, Jan. 2007, at 4.
Categories:
Legal Profession
,
Civil Practice & Procedure
Sub-Categories:
Dispute Resolution
,
Negotiation & Alternative Dispute Resolution
,
Legal Services
Type: Article
Abstract
Sometimes the best way to deal with obstinate negotiators is to bypass them completely. Here's how to execute an effective workaround.
Robert C. Bordone & Frank E. Sander, All in the Family: Managing Business Disputes with Relatives, 9 Negotiation, no. 3, Mar. 2006, at 9.
Categories:
Civil Practice & Procedure
Sub-Categories:
Dispute Resolution
,
Negotiation & Alternative Dispute Resolution
Type: Article
Robert C. Bordone & Michael L. Moffitt, Create Value out of Conflict, 9 Negot.: The Newsl. of the Harv. Progam on Negot., no. 6, 2006, at 1.
Categories:
Civil Practice & Procedure
Sub-Categories:
Negotiation & Alternative Dispute Resolution
,
Dispute Resolution
Type: Article
Robert C. Bordone et al., Improvisation and Negotiation: Expecting the Unexpected, 21 Negot. J. 415 (2005).
Categories:
Civil Practice & Procedure
,
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
Negotiation & Alternative Dispute Resolution
,
Dispute Resolution
,
Legal Services
,
Legal Education
,
Clinical Legal Education
Type: Article
Abstract
Negotiators must improvise. As the negotiations process unfolds, they work with new information, continually making decisions along the way to achieve favorable results. Skilled improvisational jazz musicians and actors perform in similar ways: they repeatedly practice song chord progressions and notes or scene guidelines before a performance; then, during the performance, they work with the information or the music they hear in order to react and respond, making decisions along the way to produce dazzling music or a compelling scene. In this article, two experts in negotiation, a jazz-improvisation scholar, a former member of an improvisational theater troupe, and a psychotherapist versed in therapeutic improvisational techniques explore the improvisational nature of negotiation. Several aspects of negotiation are similar to improvisation. Both negotiators and improvisational performers need to have a similar mind-set to be successful, both need to recognize and/or change that mind-set at times, and both must craft creative solutions. But there are some significant differences between improvisational performance and negotiation practice, which this article also notes. For example, personal charisma (“star quality”) is a common attribute of successful performers, but not something negotiators may always rely on. Similarly, improvisational artists usually work as a team, while a negotiator is often on his or her own. Nonetheless, the incorporation of improvisation techniques into the negotiation skills repertoire holds great promise for practicing negotiators and is a worthy topic of future negotiation research and teaching.
Robert C. Bordone, Fitting the Ethics to the Forum: A Proposal for Process-Enabling Ethical Codes, 21 Ohio St. J. on Disp. Resol. 1 (2005).
Categories:
Civil Practice & Procedure
,
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
Dispute Resolution
,
Mediation
,
Negotiation & Alternative Dispute Resolution
,
Arbitration
,
Legal Ethics
,
Professional Responsibility
Type: Article
Abstract
In this article, I argue that ethical rules for lawyers should be determined by the particular process in which the lawyers are engaged and that these rules should be mandatory, not elective, for the particular process. In making this case, I will focus my analysis primarily on the role of the lawyer in the negotiation process. I first provide an overview of the emergence of "process pluralism" in the legal system over the past thirty years. I then articulate a theory of professional ethical codes, namely, that they exist primarily to enable the professional to better achieve her purposes in a particular activity, not to impede or limit or constrain her ability to behave. My focus then turns specifically to the ethics of negotiation. Applying the model I lay out for designing ethics codes earlier in the piece, I make the case that negotiation-like mediation, arbitration, and litigation-should have its own set of ethical guidelines, designed to further the particular set of purposes and goals that negotiation is best suited to achieve. The article concludes by anticipating some of the philosophical or intellectual objections to my suggestions for a new approach to legal ethics.
Frank E.A. Sander & Robert C. Bordone, Keep it Out of Court: Resolving Differences In-House, Negotiation Briefings, July 2005, at 9.
Categories:
Civil Practice & Procedure
Sub-Categories:
Dispute Resolution
,
Negotiation & Alternative Dispute Resolution
Type: Article
Abstract
Workplace disputes are inevitable. And all too often, such conflicts end up in the courts. In addition to consuming incredible amounts of time and energy, lawsuits often ruin long-standing relationships with suppliers, customers, and shareholders. In this article, the authors move from theory to practice. Specifically, they examine how companies and industries are applying the principles of dispute system design in three contexts: workplace conflict, business-to-business or business-to-consumer disputes, and disputes within complex joint ventures. Learn how you and your co workers can prepare for and resolve conflict whenever it may arise.
The Handbook of Dispute Resolution (Robert C. Bordone & Michael L. Moffitt eds., Jossey-Bass/Wiley 2005).
Categories:
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
,
Civil Practice & Procedure
,
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
Negotiation & Alternative Dispute Resolution
,
Mediation
,
Dispute Resolution
,
Litigation & Settlement
,
Law & Behavioral Sciences
,
Legal Ethics
,
Legal Services
Type: Book
Abstract
The Handbook of Dispute Resolution contains the most current thinking about dispute resolution. It synthesizes more than thirty years of research into cogent, practitioner-focused chapters that assume no previous background in the field. At the same time, the book offers path-breaking research and theory that will interest those who have been immersed in the study or practice of dispute resolution for years.

Bar Admissions

Current Courses

Course Catalog View

Clinic Work

Professor Bordone is the Founding Director of the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program.

The Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP) is the nation’s first legal clinic focusing on dispute systems design and conflict management. HNMCP was founded in 2006 to take Harvard Law School students from pedagogy to practice in the fields of negotiation, dispute resolution, and conflict management. The Clinic trains a new generation of lawyers with the skills – in negotiation, mediation, facilitated dialogue, stakeholder assessment, dispute systems evaluation and design, conflict analysis, and curriculum development – necessary to help their clients manage their negotiations and disputes efficiently and creatively.

HNMCP connects organizations that would benefit from strategic advice for ongoing or upcoming negotiations or disputes with Harvard Law School students. These students, trained in both the theory and practice of dispute resolution, are prepared to exercise their new skills and knowledge on behalf of real-life clients. Students will receive academic course credit for their work with HNMCP.

For a list of clients, please visit the HNMCP website.