Case studies developed at HLS available through new website

Harvard Law School has launched a new program to develop and distribute case studies, role plays, hypothetical problems and other experiential tools for the classroom. The centerpiece of the program is a website designed as a one-stop-shop for all participant-centered teaching tools developed and sponsored by HLS.

The site includes dozens of case studies, according to Lisa Brem, program manager, “from a problem-solving case on a landlord’s dilemma to a role play dealing with union negotiations, to a business case on the merger of a top law firm.”

Harvard Law School case studies run the gamut from multi-day, multi-part problem-solving case to discussion-based business cases. The case studies stem from a variety of HLS courses and initiatives.

HLS is currently using custom-designed case studies in its Problem Solving Workshop. Taught to all first year students, the Problem Solving Workshop immerses students in real world dilemmas as they work in teams to investigate issues, produce memos and briefs, present findings and opinions to practicing attorneys, and solve problems.

Last spring, Professors Jonathan Zittrain and John Palfrey expanded the problem-solving methodology to a capstone course on Intellectual Property and Cyberlaw. With help from the Berkman Center for Internet & Society and the Case Studies program, the professors developed six “torn from the headlines” case studies on topics such as intellectual property strategy, IP aggregation firms, online piracy, legal issues in disseminating sensitive or classified information, interoperability, and gamification.

Visiting Professor Susan Crawford will teach the class at HLS this coming fall.

Role plays are used extensively at HLS to teach students practical skills in negotiation, mediation, dispute resolution, and conflict management. Along with the Program on Negotiation, the staff at the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program has created an extensive catalog of role plays that they use to teach multiple workshops and courses.

“We are excited to share our resources with others who are teaching these critical skills,” said Clinical Professor Robert Bordone, director of Harvard’s Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program. Bordone has also developed a DVD set (still in beta form) that provides negotiation coaching and instruction on three key topics: Openings and Process; Dealing with Difficult Tactics; Active Listening and Effective Assertion. In the video, practicing attorneys negotiate a licensing agreement and participate in a review of their performance.

The Case Development Initiative, part of the HLS Program on the Legal Profession, is dedicated to furthering the case study teaching method in legal and professional education. Research Director of the Case Development Initiative and HLS’s Robert Braucher Professor of Practice Ashish Nanda, and HLS Professors John Coates and Guhan Subramanian have written discussion-based case studies about the dilemmas involved in mergers and acquisitions, business organization and strategy, professional development, leadership, team dynamics, and crisis management. CDI case studies have been extensively adopted outside HLS and are used worldwide in legal and business classrooms, executive education courses, and corporate training programs.

Educators looking to use case studies in their courses can register on the site and download teaching notes and free review copies of any product. For more information contact Lisa Brem at lbrem@law.harvard.edu.