David A. Hoffman

John H. Watson, Jr. Lecturer on Law




Since 2008, David has taught the Mediation course at Harvard Law School.  He also teaches courses on Legal Profession: Collaborative Law and Diversity and Dispute Resolution.  David is also on the faculty of the Harvard Negotiation Institute, teaching a five-day advanced mediation skills course for the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.  Before teaching at HLS, he was an Adjunct Professor at Northeastern University School of Law (teaching Alternative Dispute Resolution and Negotiation).  He has also been the lead trainer in several mediation trainings for the American Bar Association.

Law and Dispute Resolution Practice

David is the founding partner of Boston Law Collaborative, LLC (“BLC”), where he serves as a mediator, arbitrator, and attorney.  Prior to founding BLC, he was a litigation partner at the Boston law firm Hill & Barlow, where he practiced for 17 years and chaired the Alternative Dispute Resolution Practice Group.  David also served for a year as staff counsel for the ACLU of Massachusetts.

David mediates and arbitrates cases at BLC ranging from business, employment, construction, intellectual property, and professional liability to divorce and other family-related disputes.  BLC is a multi-disciplinary practice that includes lawyers, mediators, mental health professionals, and a financial professional.  BLC is the winner of two national awards – the American Bar Association’s “Lawyer as Problem Solver Award” (2009), and the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution “Law Firm Award for Excellence in ADR” (2010).

David is past chair of the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution, and currently co-chairs the Ethics Subcommittee of the Section’s Collaborative Law Committee.  He is a Distinguished Fellow of the International Academy of Mediators.  He has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American College of Civil Trial Mediators, and the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution gave him its D’Alemberte-Raven Award, the Section’s highest honor.

David is listed in the book “The Best Lawyers in America” in five categories (Mediation, Arbitration, Collaborative Law – Civil, Collaborative Law - Family, and Family Law Mediation).  He has been listed in Boston Magazine's Super Lawyers Directory each year since the listing began.


David is a graduate of Princeton University (A.B. 1970, summa cum laude), Cornell University (M.A. 1974, American Studies, all but dissertation completed toward Ph.D.), and Harvard Law School (J.D. 1984, magna cum laude), where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.  He clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit for Hon. Stephen G. Breyer.


David lives in Acton, Massachusetts. He has three children.

Areas of Interest

·         Dispute Resolution: Mediation

·         Negotiation

·         Legal Ethics

·         Diversity

·         Psychology of Conflict

Areas of Interest

David A. Hoffman, Mediation: A Practice Guide for Mediators, Lawyers, and Other Professionals (Mass. Continuing Legal Educ. 2013).
Civil Practice & Procedure
Type: Book
David A. Hoffman & Richard Wolman, The Psychology of Mediation, 14 Cardozo J. Conflict Resol. 759 (2013).
Civil Practice & Procedure
Health Care
Psychology & Psychiatry
Type: Article
David A. Hoffman, Mediation and the Art of Shuttle Diplomacy, 27 Negotiation J. 263 (2011).
Civil Practice & Procedure
Type: Article
Mediation caucusing — that is, separate meetings conducted by the mediator with some, but not all, of the parties — is widely used, but it has become increasingly controversial, as some mediators advocate for a no-caucus form of mediation using only joint sessions with all parties present. The rationale for the no-caucus model is that caucuses give the mediator too much power at the expense of the parties, and joint sessions improve the parties' understanding of each other's views. But caucusing adds value to mediation in several ways. First, from the standpoint of economic theory, caucusing provides mediators with an important tool for overcoming two impediments to settlement — the “prisoner's dilemma” (caused by the parties' fear of mutual exploitation) and “adverse selection” (caused by the failure to disclose information). Second, caucusing can help the mediator overcome a variety of negotiation problems, such as communication barriers, unrealistic expectations, emotional barriers, intraparty conflict, and fear of losing face. Third, caucusing provides a more private setting in which the mediator can develop a deeper and more personal understanding of the parties' needs and interests. Although the no-caucus model may be appropriate for certain types of mediation (particularly those cases in which the parties will have an ongoing relationship), some parties may prefer the efficiency that can be achieved with caucusing, even if that means sacrificing certain other values — such as greater understanding — or giving the mediator more information than the parties have, thus creating the risk of manipulation by the mediator. Moreover, the choice is not binary — numerous variations and hybrid formats can be useful, such as sessions in which the mediator meets with only the parties' lawyers or with only the parties. Choosing the best format for a mediation is more of an art than a science, and mediators should consider, with the parties, whether the parties' objectives would be best served using only joint sessions, extensive caucusing, or a combination of these approaches.

Bar Admissions

Education History

Current Courses

Course Catalog View

Additional Information

Representative Publications


·        Massachusetts Alternative Dispute Resolution (2 vols.) (Michie/Butterworth Legal Publishers, 1994) (with co-author David Matz)

·        Bringing Peace into the Room: How the Personal Qualities of the Mediator Impact the Process of Conflict Resolution(with co-editor Daniel Bowling) (Jossey-Bass/Wiley, 2003)

Book Chapters

·        The Whistleblower: Mediating an Employment Termination Dispute, in Stories Mediators Tell (eds. Eric R. Galton & Lela P. Love, 2012)

·        Cooperative Negotiation Agreements: Using Contracts to Make a Safe Place for a Difficult Conversation, in Innovations in Family Law Practice(eds. K.B. Olson & N. VerSteegh) (Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, 2008)


·        The Psychology of Mediation, 14 Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution __ (2013) (in press) (with co-author Dr. Richard Wolman).

·        The Mediator as Moral Witness, Harvard Negotiation Law Review blog, April 2013 (www.HNLR.org).

·        Mediation and the Art of Shuttle Diplomacy, 27 Negotiation Journal 263 (2011)

·        Mediation, Multiple Minds, and Managing the Negotiation Within, 16 Harvard Negotiation Law Review 297 (2011)

·        Mediation as a Spiritual Practice(with co-author Dr. Richard Wolman) (2011) at www.Mediate.com

·        Building Bridges to Resolve Conflict and Overcome the “Prisoner’s Dilemma”: The Vital Role of Professional Relationships in the Collaborative Law Process(with co-author Dawn Ash) (Journal of Dispute Resolution, Fall 2010)

·        Op-ed: Microsoft and Yahoo: Where were the mediators?  It works for countries and couples – why not businesses?, Christian Science Monitor (May 12, 2008) (this article won an award for best short article from the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution, www.cpradr.org)

·        Leveling the Playing Field for Workplace Neutrals: A Proposal for Achieving Racial and Ethnic Diversity, American Arbitration Association Dispute Resolution Journal (February/April 2008) (with co-author Lamont Stallworth)

·        Colliding Worlds of Dispute Resolution: Towards a Unified Field Theory of ADR, 2008 Journal of Dispute Resolution 11 (2008)

·        The Future of ADR Practice: Three Hopes, Three Fears, and Three Predictions, Negotiation Journal (October 2006)

·        Multidisciplinary Practice: Three-Dimensional Client Service, MassPsych(Mass. Psychological Ass’n quarterly), Summer 2004 (with co-author Richard Wolman)

·        Ten Principles of Mediation Ethics, 18 Alternatives 147 (September 2000)

·        Mediation and the Unauthorized Practice of Law: Do Mediators Have a Well-Founded Fear of Prosecution?  6 ABA Dispute Resolution Magazine 20 (2000) (with co-author Natasha Affolder), also at www.Mediate.com