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Robert Mnookin

  • 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.”

  • Josh Stein, David Barron and Archon Fung speaking with students

    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

    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

    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.