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Recipes for Success


I love the cookbook that Andrea and 1001 chefs wrote, Cooking Up a Deal: Negotiation Recipes for Success.  It’s a wonderfully short and fun piece to assign for the last day of class.

For the final class in several courses, I ask students to develop their own personal recipes and then we will develop a collective class recipe, stone soup style, based on their individual recipes. (Some of my students didn’t know the stone soup fable, so if you do this exercise, you might need to explain it to your students.)

I have done this exercise several times and it has always worked really well. It gets everyone involved and it is very validating for them (and me) to see what they learned during the semester. This reflects both ideas I have conveyed as well as the lessons that they have internalized and value.

And the class is a lot of fun as everyone throws something into the pot, often spiced with humor and laughs. In their written recipes, many students took advantage of the recipe format to really engage the ideas – and have a good time.

This semester, I taught Negotiation and Family Law Dispute Resolution (FLDR). In Negotiation, I emphasize that negotiation is a central lawyering activity throughout litigation and transactional work, not just a discrete activity at the tail-end of a case. In FLDR, students learn, among other things, about the importance of collaboration with other professionals and the relationships between the parties during and after negotiation.

In both courses, students did two multi-stage simulations during the second half of the semester – more on this soon – which really helped them get a more realistic appreciation of the challenges of lawyering.

Some students provided basic recipes (with only the 3-5 ingredients they were required to suggest) but most really got into the assignment, combining serious thought and playfulness. FLDR student Elisha Gilmore’s recipe was particularly creative.

Here are the collective recipes from the Negotiation and FLDR classes. There are 24 students in Negotiation and 9 students in FLDR, which probably accounts for the difference in the length.

I slightly edited some of the ingredients and organized them. After we exhausted the list of ingredients they had to contribute, we talked about which ingredients seemed particularly important (and/or which several students suggested), which you will see listed as major ingredients.

There was a lot of overlap in the two classes’ recipes. The major ingredients in both recipes include curiosity, active listening, empathy, understanding the other side’s perspective, respect for the other side, creativity, and patience.

I was surprised that neither class mentioned sincerity. I always tell students that sincerity is the key to success. If they can fake that, they’ve got it made.


John Lande

John Lande is the Isidor Loeb Professor Emeritus at the University of Missouri School of Law and former director of its LLM Program in Dispute Resolution.  He received his J.D. from Hastings College of Law and Ph.D in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He began mediating professionally in 1982 in California.… MORE >

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