Our careers as negotiators start early; students enter law school with years of experience in the art. It was therefore surprising to us that many of our students in the Lawyering Program at New York University School of Law seemed to feel inadequate after conducting a simulated negotiation. In this exercise, students were cast as attorneys for either a homeowner or for a contractor in a dispute over a botched construction project, and were instructed to resolve the matter. In teaching the exercise, we were repeatedly struck by a jarring sense of disjunction between our perceptions of students' success in planning for and executing the negotiation and the students' sense of their own success in these matters. Some students appeared to be consistently self-deprecating, although their work was usually adequate and often exemplary. Our impression was that this group was predominantly comprised of women. We thought that other students, usually men, seemed inordinately satisfied with performances that we found lacking in important respects; often students in this latter group had overlooked entire dimensions of planning or conducting the negotiation, and did not expect to learn appreciably from the critique process that followed the performance phase. The gender split among the students appeared to be more prominent in this negotiation simulation than in other work that students did during the course of the year, including client interviewing and counseling, advocating in informal and formal settings, and presenting evidence to a tribunal.

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