New Textbook Facilitates Experiential Learning Course for Business Negotiations

Daniel D. Bradlow Daniel D. Bradlow
Professor of Law, American University Washington College of Law
Jay Gary Finkelstein Jay Gary Finkelstein
Adjunct Professor of Law, American University Washington College of Law
July 17, 2013

“Step into [our] world, and welcome to it.” With this quote, we introduce our newly published textbook, Negotiating Business Transactions: An Extended Simulations Course. The textbook accompanies our transactional law and practical skills course, International Business Negotiations, which we developed at American University Washington College of Law. The course is also profiled on the Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers (ETL) website. The textbook, together with its online teacher's manual, is the first book designed to facilitate the adoption of an extended transactional simulation course using experiential learning and collaborative teaching pedagogy.

The International Business Negotiations course, which is one of the first ETL-profiled courses to be added to the curriculum at multiple law schools, has been well received by students at each school where it has been taught and meets a timely need for more practical skills and transactional law training in law school. The course was offered at five law schools during the 2012-2013 academic year and is being offered by nine law schools during the upcoming academic year (two of which will offer it in each semester), including four ETL consortium schools and five of the top 15 law schools: American University Washington College of Law (WCL), Berkeley Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, Hastings Law School, Northwestern Law School, Stanford Law School, University of Dundee (Scotland), University of Virginia Law School, and Washington and Lee University School of Law.

The course and textbook are designed to introduce students to business transactional practice and provide an innovative curriculum offering that focuses on building transactional and negotiation skills through an interactive, hands-on learning model, which replicates issues faced in an international practice. The course satisfies the ABA requirements for practical skills training.

Over more than two decades, we have developed the course to teach students to use and integrate their doctrinal legal education in an experiential environment that brings a business transaction into the classroom, where students can examine its process and progress and their mistakes become educational opportunities instead of potential malpractice lawsuits down the line. Students must also tap into the knowledge and skills learned from other courses they have taken to address the many nuances of the simulated transaction and to structure and negotiate the best results for their party.

The course showcases collaborative teaching methodology by pairing classes at two different law schools or by pairing two parts of one class at the same law school to conduct the semester-long negotiation (each group of students representing one party to the transaction), thereby bringing a heightened element of reality to the training exercise. After conducting their analysis and developing their strategy, students must work in teams to negotiate with the opposing group to achieve a mutually acceptable result, memorialized in a letter of intent.

Our textbook results from extensive collaboration between the two of us: Daniel D. Bradlow is a tenured faculty member and Jay Gary Finkelstein is an adjunct faculty member who is also a transactional partner at DLA Piper US. Prof. Bradlow designed the simulation exercise in the late 1980s and initiated the first collaborative class in 2001 between WCL and Dundee. Professor Finkelstein joined with Professor Bradlow in 2003, enhanced the simulation module in teaching the WCL/Dundee class, and originated the first US collaborative class between WCL and Northwestern. Professor Finkelstein has facilitated the adoption of the class and collaborative teaching at each of the other US law schools, has taught the class in Ethiopia and Tanzania, and will be teaching the course this Fall at Stanford (paired with Berkeley) and this Spring at Georgetown (paired with Dundee); he will also be co-teaching the Fall course at Berkeley.

The text includes the full simulation module (domestic and international versions), background materials for the business and legal context of the transaction, and chapters on transactional lawyering, negotiation skills, ethics of negotiation, and other key issues in business transactional practice. Also included are sample documents from comparable transactions that are illustrative of the legal agreements that would be used in an actual transaction. The teacher's manual includes a sample syllabus, negotiating instructions for each side, materials on the pedagogy of the course, and detailed lecture and topic outlines.

While we intend to continue to facilitate the introduction of the course at other law schools, the new textbook and teacher's manual will enable the adoption of the material by any professor who wishes to explore transactional, experiential, and collaborative teaching. We hope to expand their collaboration with others and encourage new and potential teachers of this course to either contact us or to visit the interactive/comments section of the teacher's manual website.