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Robert Mnookin

  • Tillerson’s exit interview

    September 19, 2019

    Rex Tillerson had seen and learned much in his 41-year career at ExxonMobil Corp., and some of it proved useful in his 13 months as U.S. secretary of state.  But in the end, most of the thorniest challenges the former chairman of the multinational oil giant faced had more to do with his relationship with his boss, President Donald Trump, than with the complexities of geopolitics. ... In panel interview with Professors Nicholas Burns, who runs the Future of Diplomacy Project at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), Robert Mnookin, chair emeritus of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School (HLS), and James Sebenius, who heads the Harvard Negotiation Roundtable at Harvard Business School (HBS), Tillerson’s daylong visit was organized by the American Secretaries of State Project, a joint initiative run by Burns, Mnookin, and Sebenius, who each lead programs on diplomacy and negotiation at all three Schools.

  • Illustration of different people dancing in a circle

    The Choosing People

    August 13, 2019

    Robert and Dale Mnookin never had any doubt that they areewish. But the question of who should be considered Jewish can be surprisingly tangled and fraught. That question is at the heart of Robert’s new book, “The Jewish American Paradox: Embracing Choice in a Changing World.”

  • Harvard law professor explores Jewish identity

    February 26, 2019

    Despite American Jews’ generally low observance of Jewish religious traditions, paucity of Jewish knowledge, and relative non-belief in God, many feel remarkably committed. That is the central paradox of contemporary American Jewish life. And Harvard Law School professor Bob Mnookin confesses he is a prime exemplar of the paradox. ... Over the course of a career devoted to conflict resolution, Mnookin has written many well-regarded books and articles on disputes arising from divorce, commercial dealings, and international clashes, including the Israeli-Arab confrontation. Yet “The Jewish American Paradox,” Mnookin confesses, was the most difficult book for him to write. It required him to master a vast literature far afield from his expertise.

  • A Menorah and A Christmas Tree

    December 6, 2018

    An essay by Robert Mnookin. This month poses a “December dilemma” for many American Jews, especially those in interfaith relationships. Should you celebrate Chanukah? Christmas? Or both? Many intermarried American Jews with children celebrate Chanukah, now the most popular Jewish holiday. The December dilemma focuses on whether you may also have a sparkling tree in your living room and condone additional gifts on the 25th. Today about a third of self-identified Jews report having a Christmas tree at home, according to a 2013 Pew survey.

  • Defining Jewish identity

    December 5, 2018

    Last Wednesday, three swastikas were found spray-painted outside the office of a Jewish psychology professor at Columbia’s Teachers College in New York City. In an interview with the Washington Post, the professor remarked that she may have been the target of anti-Semitic vandalism because “I’m a Jew at this college — one of the only ones who acts like a Jew.” Non-Jews may be confused by the meaning of the professor’s response, but Jews will know she is referring to what Robert H. Mnookin calls “The Jewish American Paradox” in his new book of that title.

  • 10 New Books We Recommend This Week

    November 26, 2018

    The Jewish American Paradox: Embracing Choice in a Changing World, by Robert Mnookin. (PublicAffairs, $28.) Mnookin, a Harvard law professor, delivers a methodical argument that for American Judaism to survive it will need to become much more inclusive. Our reviewer, Gal Beckerman, describes it as “a lucid legal brief of a book that proposes what would amount to a revolutionary (some would say heretical) revision. It no longer makes sense, Mnookin thinks, to use matrilineal descent, or any descent really, to determine who is a Jew. If you feel yourself to be a Jew, you get to be one.”

  • American Jews Face a Choice: Create Meaning or Fade Away

    November 13, 2018

    ...If a revitalized form of Judaism is the counterweight to Gans’s predictions, it will have to be much more expansive and inclusive than its current iteration. This is also the assessment of Robert Mnookin, a Harvard law professor, in The Jewish American Paradox: Embracing Choice in a Changing World (PublicAffairs, $28), a lucid legal brief of a book that proposes what would amount to a revolutionary (some would say heretical) revision. It no longer makes sense, Mnookin thinks, to use matrilineal descent, or any descent really, to determine who is a Jew. If you feel yourself to be a Jew, you get to be one.

  • 25 Harvard Law Profs Sign NYT Op-Ed Demanding Senate Reject Kavanaugh

    October 4, 2018

    Roughly two dozen Harvard Law School professors have signed a New York Times editorial arguing that the United States Senate should not confirm Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Harvard affiliates — including former Law School Dean Martha L. Minow and Laurence Tribe — joined more than 1,000 law professors across the country in signing the editorial, published online Wednesday. The professors wrote that Kavanaugh displayed a lack of “impartiality and judicial temperament requisite to sit on the highest court of our land” in the heated testimony he gave during a nationally televised hearing held Sept. 27 in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee....As of late Wednesday, the letter had been signed by the following: Sabi Ardalan, Christopher T. Bavitz, Elizabeth Bartholet, Christine Desan, Susan H. Farbstein, Nancy Gertner, Robert Greenwald, Michael Gregory, Janet Halley, Jon Hanson, Adriaan Lanni, Bruce H. Mann, Frank Michelman, Martha Minow, Robert H. Mnookin, Intisar Rabb, Daphna Renan, David L. Shapiro, Joseph William Singer, Carol S. Steiker, Matthew C. Stephenson, Laurence Tribe, Lucie White, Alex Whiting, Jonathan Zittrain

  • How Artful Is Trump’s Dealmaking?

    June 11, 2018

    For decades, President Trump has presented himself as a master dealmaker. "I've made a lot of deals," Trump told reporters last month. "I know deals, I think, better than anybody knows deals." That was part of the shtick on Trump's long-running TV show, The Apprentice. And it's the subject of his bestselling 1987 book, The Art of the Deal..."Although his Art of the Deal sold a lot of copies, I don't think he's a very impressive negotiator," said Robert Mnookin, who directs the Harvard Negotiation Research Project. Mnookin, who wrote his own book on negotiation called Bargaining with the Devil, says Trump often goes from tough and adversarial one minute to ingratiating the next. He used to call Kim Jong Un "Little Rocket Man." Now he praises the dictator as "very honorable." The president calls that flexibility. Mnookin says it makes Trump hard to trust.

  • Subramanian appointed chair of Program on Negotiation 1

    Subramanian will succeed Mnookin as Program on Negotiation Chair

    March 15, 2018

    Professor Guhan Subramanian ’98 will be the new chair of the Program on Negotiation (PON) at Harvard Law School. Subramanian holds appointments at both Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School. As chair of PON, he will succeed Professor Robert H. Mnookin `68.

  • Hillary Clinton to Visit Harvard Friday

    March 3, 2017

    Hillary Clinton will be on Harvard's campus Friday to discuss her time as Secretary of State and dine in Kirkland House. Clinton will take part in an interview as part of the“ American Secretaries of State Project: Diplomacy, Negotiation, and Statecraft”, a joint project of the Kennedy School, Law School, and Business School, according to a statement from the Kennedy School...Law School Professor Robert H. Mnookin, Business School professor James K. Sebenius, and Kennedy School professor R. Nicholas Burns lead the project and will conduct the interview with Clinton.

  • Harvard Law School: 2016 in review

    December 22, 2016

    A look back at 2016, highlights of the people who visited, events that took place and everyday life at Harvard Law School.

  • Mnookin to receive ABA Outstanding Scholarly Work Award

    March 18, 2016

    Harvard Law Professor Robert Mnookin ’68 will receive the 2016 Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work from the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution. The award honors individuals whose scholarship has contributed significantly to the field of dispute resolution.

  • Harvard brings negotiation workshop to Tel Aviv

    February 18, 2016

    (Subscription required) One can expect only the finest teachings from Harvard University, but something is brewing in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Prof. Robert H. Mnookin, the chairman of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, along with other colleagues, has spent the past year-and-ahalf developing video lectures featuring some of the world’s leading experts in negotiation.

  • An inside view from Powell, complete with regrets

    November 4, 2015

    In a visit to Harvard Law School, retired four-star general and former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell shared lessons from his service as a close adviser to three presidents, tips on negotiating with difficult foreign leaders, and his thoughts on strengthening support for families and children in the United States. Powell on Friday took part in the American Secretaries of State Program developed jointly by the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, the Future of Diplomacy Project at Harvard Kennedy School, and Harvard Business School. Law School Dean Martha Minow introduced the afternoon session, which was moderated by HLS Professor Robert H. Mnookin, HBS Professor James Sebenius, and HKS Professor Nicholas Burns.

  • ‘I’m out of money, and I’m out of hope’: Rethinking custody battles

    July 27, 2015

    After spending more than $50,000 in legal bills trying to win custody of her daughters, Amy Andrade ran out of money...“A presumption of joint physical custody is a bad idea,” Robert Mnookin, a professor at Harvard Law School and co-author of Dividing the Child: Social and Legal Dilemmas of Custody, told “It’s fine if the parents agree to it, but is terrible if they don’t.” In his book, Mnookin argues that shared parenting agreements where there is “substantial parental conflict” invite more legal conflict, not less, and children often feel even more caught in the middle of parental conflict than they do already.

  • A Trade Deal Read In Secret By Only Few (Or Maybe None)

    May 14, 2015

    Senate leaders were all smiles Wednesday after they broke a 24-hour impasse and announced they had reached a deal on how to move forward on a fast-track trade negotiating bill. That legislation would give the president expedited authority to enter into a trade agreement with Pacific Rim countries, otherwise known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP...The White House defends the restrictions, pointing out that 12 countries are still negotiating a sensitive trade agreement and publicizing trade terms before they're finalized could make bargaining more awkward. It's a reasonable point, says Robert Mnookin, who heads the negotiation program at Harvard Law School. "The representatives of the parties have to be able to explore a variety of options just to see what might be feasible before they ultimately make a deal. That kind of exploration becomes next to impossible if you have to do it in public," said Mnookin.

  • In Iran talks, it’s the devil you don’t know

    May 11, 2015

    The idiom “bargaining with the devil” sets up well the attitudes of both Tehran and Washington toward each other in their current negotiations to curb Iran’s nuclear capabilities...“Bargaining with the Devil” is also the title of one of my favorite books, by Harvard’s Robert Mnookin, the subtitle of which is “when to negotiate and when to fight.” Mnookin takes up several case studies to answer this question, ranging from divorce, to sibling rivalry, to business quarrels, on through Winston Churchill’s decision not to bargain with Hitler during the darkest days of Word War II, and Nelson Mendela’s decision to bargain with his devil, the apartheid government of South Africa. Mnookin’s book was written in 2009, long before the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia decided to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program. But the book’s conclusions have relevance today.

  • Letter to the Editors

    April 14, 2015

    A letter by Charles Fried and Robert Mnookin. Your editorial entitled “Title IX and University Administration” argues the importance of uniform Title IX procedures across “One Harvard." Uniformity in some matters is good, but you do not say why it is needed for this one. The reason the law faculty drafted its own procedures was the overwhelming sentiment in our faculty that the university’s Title IX procedures were so unfair as to be unacceptable. At our meetings not a single faculty member spoke in defense of the university’s procedures. And, after all, procedure is what we do. If we had not been allowed to draft our own procedures a strong denunciation by the faculty would almost certainly have followed and would have made law suits by accused students a virtual certainty.

  • At Harvard, Madeline Albright discusses the power of personal relationships

    April 8, 2015

    The value of a clear understanding of your country’s objectives and the power of personal relationships — along with the wisdom of not drinking too much lemonade — were among the insights former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright shared with an audience at Harvard Law School's on April 2.

  • Albright, on negotiating

    April 3, 2015

    The value of a clear understanding of your country’s objectives and the power of personal relationships — along with the wisdom of not drinking too much lemonade — were among the insights former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright shared with a Harvard audience Thursday. “Personal relationships do ease things a lot,” said Albright, who served as secretary of state during President Bill Clinton’s second term from 1997 to 2001. “But you can’t let that personal relationship get in the way.” Albright was a guest of the American Secretaries of State Project, a joint effort by the Harvard Kennedy School’s (HKS) Future of Diplomacy Project and the Program on Negotiation. She was joined on stage by the project’s three faculty directors: Nicholas Burns, professor of the practice of diplomacy and international politics at HKS; Robert Mnookin, Samuel Williston Professor of Law at Harvard Law School (HLS); and James Sebenius, Gordon Donaldson Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School (HBS). The three faculty members co-teach the “Great Negotiators, Effective Diplomacy, and Intractable Conflicts” class, and their students were in the audience and able to press Albright further on key points.

  • Former Secretary of State Albright Talks International Negotiations

    April 3, 2015

    Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright spoke about her experience in international negotiations and interpersonal diplomacy as part of a panel hosted at the Harvard Business School on Thursday...Albright was invited as part of the American Secretaries of State Project, organized by the Belfer Center’s Future of Diplomacy Project and the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. The program, which plans to interview all former Secretaries of State, has previously welcomed former Secretaries George P. Schultz, James A. Baker III, and Henry A. Kissinger. The event featured a panel discussion between Albright and a trio of Harvard professors—Harvard Kennedy School professor R. Nicholas Burns, HLS professor Robert H. Mnookin and HBS professor James K. Sebenius—who also facilitated an audience question and answer session.

  • Amidst Title IX Debate, Law Faculty Raise Governance Concerns

    April 2, 2015

    As Harvard Law School moves to break from the University’s central approach to handling cases of alleged sexual harassment, Law professors are questioning the relationship between their school and Harvard’s central administration and faculty governance structures more broadly. Two Law School professors, Charles Fried and Robert H. Mnookin, penned an op-ed last week in the Chronicle of Higher Education criticizing the “cadre of administrators” at Harvard and called for the creation of a faculty senate as a mechanism to ensure faculty participation in major University decisions...In an interview this week, Mnookin said he had been thinking about University centralization issues over the past couple of years, but “it’s certain the importance of it was underscored by the process by which both the decisions on Title IX and with regard to our health policies were adapted.”

  • Faust Defends Harvard’s Governance Structure

    March 31, 2015

    University President Drew G. Faust is defending Harvard’s governance structure after two Harvard Law School professors were sharply critical of the central administration in an op-ed that called for the formation of a faculty senate...Faust was responding directly to an op-ed published last week in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Law School professors Charles Fried and Robert H. Mnookin, who argued that Harvard’s central administration and “bureaucracy” had grown extensively. “And the results have not always been good,” it read. The authors also suggested that observers should not assume that the FAS, whose monthly meetings are chaired by Faust, speaks for the whole University. Fried and Mnookin pointed in particular to the unveiling of Harvard’s University-wide sexual assault policy and procedures last July and the new health benefits plans for non-union employees last fall as examples of decisions that they argued did not involve enough faculty input. But Faust took issue with each of those examples, maintaining that broad input from across Harvard was sought.

  • The Silencing of Harvard’s Professors

    March 24, 2015

    An op-ed by Charles Fried and Robert H. Mnookin. Today Harvard faces a serious governance problem that requires institutional change. When we first came here, the university was organized on the constitutional principle: “Each tub on its own bottom.” This meant first of all that each of the component schools (arts and sciences, medical school, law school, and so on) had not only a high degree of budgetary independence but also that its faculty and dean had a large measure of autonomy. And at the level of the schools such administrators as there were worked under the direction of the dean and in close cooperation with faculty committees. Correspondingly, the central administration was very small: There were four vice presidents to oversee administration, alumni affairs and development, finance, and government relations, and a general counsel...The time has come for Harvard to institute, as other universities have done, a representative faculty senate that would include ladder-rank faculty from all schools in the university.

  • Kissinger, on diplomacy

    November 13, 2014

    Considered one of the most important American diplomats of the 20th century, onetime Secretary of State Henry Kissinger visited the Harvard Law School (HLS) campus last week to share some of the lessons learned as adviser to Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. A key architect of U.S. foreign policy between 1969 and 1977 and a proponent of realpolitik, Kissinger reflected on his long career with HLS Professor Robert H. Mnookin, Harvard Business School Professor James Sebenius, and Harvard Kennedy School Professor Nick Burns during an afternoon session in crowded Austin Hall on Nov. 6.

  • Market Basket talks drag on amid legal maneuvering

    August 28, 2014

    The effort to reach an agreement on a $1.5 billion sale of Market Basket — a complicated transaction under any circumstances — has dragged out amid intense legal maneuvering by members of the Demoulas family who have been fighting each other in court for nearly 25 years. ... “What’s clear is that both sides demonize the other,” said Robert Mnookin, the chair of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School and author of the book, “Bargaining with the Devil: When to Negotiate, When to Fight.” “Because of anger and fear, people often have a very hard time thinking through how they might be able to serve their own long-run interests,” Mnookin said. “Their impulse is to fight someone they don’t trust.”

  • Working outside the peace process

    May 13, 2014

    The peace process, at least for now, is over. Fatah and Hamas announced a reconciliation agreement, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu accused Palestinian Authority Prime Mahmoud Abbas of colluding with a terrorist organization and negotiations were cut off. Hamas reiterated its commitment to the tactics of terror, and nobody thinks official negotiations will restart anytime soon. Unofficial negotiations are all set to go ahead next month…The negotiations will be mediated by Harvard University’s Program on Negotiation chairman Prof. Robert H. Mnookin, an expert on negotiations and conflict resolution.

  • A Self-Advocate Is Now Also a Legal Advocate

    A Self-Advocate Is Now Also a Legal Advocate

    July 1, 2013

    As a deaf-blind student with very limited sight and hearing, Haben Girma '13 learned that you must be a self-advocate and come up with creative solutions to the problems you face. If that fails, she says, then the law can be a strong ally.

  • Professor Robert Mnookin LL.B. '68

    In the news: HLS faculty weigh in on the ‘fiscal cliff’ negotiations

    January 7, 2013

    In recent weeks, a number of HLS faculty have weighed in on issues surrounding the fiscal cliff negotiations.

  • Professor Robert H. Mnookin

    Mnookin honored by International Academy of Mediators with Lifetime Achievement Award

    December 4, 2012

    Professor Robert Mnookin ’68, chairman of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, was honored by the International Academy of Mediators with a lifetime achievement award. The IAM Award is presented to a person who has made exceptional contributions throughout his or her career by personally advancing alternative dispute resolution and inspiring others to do so.

  • Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at HLS

    Briefs: Some memorable moments, milestones and a Miró

    October 1, 2012

    In October 1962, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at Harvard Law School on “The Future of Integration.” It was six months before he would be imprisoned in a Birmingham jail, 10 months before the March on Washington, almost two years before the signing of the Civil Rights Act and almost six years before his assassination. “It may be that the law cannot make a man love me,” he said, “but it can keep him from lynching me.”

  • Page Turners: Reading Groups Cover New Ground

    July 1, 2012

    Last summer, Professor Robert Mnookin ’68, found himself wanting to know more about U.S.-Cuba relations. “I had an idea that there was a very interesting set of questions related to when, how and whether the two countries would ever negotiate a reconciliation,” he says. He decided to investigate by teaching a reading group—a small, 1-credit class, where 2Ls and 3Ls are able to dig deeply into a given topic in a way that provokes extended discussion among the group. “I am not an expert on Cuba; I’m an expert on negotiation, and what a reading group allowed me to do is learn with the students about an area I didn’t know much about,” he says.

  • Rafael M. Hernandez Rodriguez

    Prominent Cuban intellectual participates in ‘Negotiating with Cuba’ reading group

    April 14, 2012

    Three times last month, Harvard Law School Professor Robert Mnookin brought in prominent Cuban intellectual Rafael M. Hernández Rodríguez via videoconference to speak to his reading group on the topic of negotiating with Cuba. According to Mnookin, it’s the first time a Cuban scholar has participated in an American seminar from Cuba itself, an event for which took Mnookin weeks of back and forth with Cuba’s Ministry of Culture to obtain permission, giving a glimpse into the continued hold of the Communist bureaucracy in Havana.

  • Professors Heymann and Blum

    ‘Laws, Outlaws and Terrorists:’ A panel discussion (video)

    November 4, 2010

    Prominent legal and political scholars explored the relationship between terrorism, diplomacy and law in a panel discussion in early October in light of “Laws, Outlaws, and Terrorists” (2010), a book written by Harvard Law School Professor Philip Heymann ’60 and Associate Professor Gabriella Blum LL.M. ’01 S.J.D. ’03.

  • Professor Robert H. Mnookin

    Mnookin on PBS NewsHour: Bargaining with the Devil (video)

    August 27, 2010

    Harvard Law School Professor Robert Mnookin ’68 appeared on PBS NewsHour on August 25. He spoke with economics correspondent Paul Solman about the rewards and challenges of negotiation. Mnookin is the author of “Bargaining with the Devil: When to Negotiate, When to Fight,” which was published by Simon & Schuster in February.

  • Professor Robert H. Mnookin

    Mnookin in Foreign Policy: Bargaining with the devil

    February 18, 2010

    An op-ed by Harvard Law School Professor Robert Mnookin, “Bargaining with the devil,” appeared in the February 17, 2010, edition of Foreign Policy magazine.

  • Fired-up scholars give a warm reception to ‘Devil,’ hot off the presses

    February 9, 2010

    A reception and panel discussion was held at Harvard Law School on Feb. 4 to celebrate the publication of  “Bargaining with the Devil,” the…

  • Professor Robert H. Mnookin

    Mnookin on the Negotiation Workshop

    February 8, 2010

    Professor Robert H. Mnookin ’68 Most lawyers, irrespective of their specialty, must negotiate. Litigators resolve far more disputes through negotiation than by trials. Business lawyers…

  • Bargaining with the Devil

    February 7, 2010

    In the most recent U.S. presidential election, the candidates debated the wisdom of negotiating with enemies. But such a debate is not confined to political leaders. Whether it’s a dispute between countries, businesses or family members, the parties involved face a crucial decision. And Robert Mnookin ’68 offers a guide to making the right one in his new book, “Bargaining With the Devil: When to Negotiate, When to Fight” (Simon & Schuster).

  • Professor Robert H. Mnookin

    Mnookin in Boston Globe on what it would take for Gates, Crowley to shake hands

    July 24, 2009

    The following Q&A featuring Harvard Law School Professor Robert Mnookin ’68 was featured in the July 24, 2009, edition of the Boston Globe.

  • Sewing Illustration

    Mission impossible?

    September 1, 2005

    Harvard-trained negotiators are working hard on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, in which everyone seems to know where they want to go but no one knows quite how to get there.

  • Professor Robert Mnookin and Susan Hackley

    Online and on the road

    September 1, 2005

    A quarter-century after "Getting to Yes," Harvard's Program on Negotiation is refining the art and sharing it with the world.

  • Professor Robert Mnookin '68 and Israeli lawyer Ehud Eiran lead the seminar.

    The Other Side of the Story

    September 1, 2004

    On a day when Israeli and Palestinian forces clashed in Gaza and negotiations in the region were at a standstill, a group of Harvard Law students in a classroom half a world away examined some of the challenges that have made the negotiation process so difficult in the Middle East and other lands torn by ethnic and religious strife.

  • Bargain Hunting

    September 28, 2000

    In his new book, Professor Robert Mnookin '68 urges lawyers to negotiate with the aim of solving problems without resorting to hard-bargaining tactics.

  • The Great Negotiator

    July 18, 2000

      Credit: Nicki Pardo This spring former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, who chaired the Northern Ireland peace negotiations that led to the “Good Friday Agreement”…