“Stephanie” Lucia Kanter St. Amour ’98 is a UC Hastings alumna, longtime adjunct professor in the Center for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution (CNDR), and international mediator. She also serves as board vice president of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of UN Women USA.
Earlier this year, she launched her podcast, Forces of Good: The Superpower of Everyday Negotiation. In this interview, she discussed her connection to UC Hastings and her new book, For the Forces of Good: The Superpower of Everyday Negotiation.
Tell me about your time at Hastings and your journey to what you are doing now.
Law school was not the plan for me. I didn’t think I was cut out for it. After college (Go Bears!) I took a job with a small firm of arbitrators and mediators, who invested in my development and encouraged me to go to law school. I nearly dropped out of Hastings my first semester because I felt so out of place. The jelly donut-loving Professor Harry G. Prince convinced me to stick around. I bet he doesn’t even remember that, and what a difference he made for me.
The summer after my first year at Hastings, I clerked for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in San Francisco and was a key contributor to designing the EEOC’s mediation program. After law school, I practiced employment law at Orrick and then the Judicial Council of California before teaching at Hastings and UC Berkeley Law, for 10 years. I went to Harvard Law School for my mediation certification, hung out my own shingle and started mediating cases at, you guessed it: the EEOC.
What inspired you to write this book?
I noticed the paucity of non-White- cisgender men’s voices on the topic. The marketplace of negotiation literature, with just a couple exceptions, consists of the attorney, the business executive, the retired hostage negotiator – writing FOR that same audience. No wonder laypeople think of negotiation as (a) something to be avoided and (b) a specialized skill that they don’t possess and, therefore, shouldn’t try on their own. Once I “saw” this, I couldn’t un-see it.
What do you hope people take away from this book?
Negotiation isn’t just for business. It’s everybody’s business. Every day. It’s well past time to evolve the mindset and to empower a wider audience to internalize the confidence that each person is a competent, everyday negotiator. I have some great news: you’re probably already better at negotiating than you think, and aren’t starting from square one.
What would you tell other law students about UC Hastings?
Hastings is a competitive place, situated right in the belly of the beast, if you will, in the city. If you’re feeling out of place like I did my first year, like you aren’t “enough” and won’t “make it,” there are plenty of people – students, staff and faculty – who care and want to help you belong, to understand that you are enough.
I’d also like to tell them that I’m VERY optimistic about their generation – they are climate activists, makers, and challengers of status quo systems that have left many out of discourse, decisions, and design. I’m rooting for all of you and excited to see how you make a difference!
CNDR is hosting a book launch party for St. Amour on Thursday, Nov. 10, from 4:30-6 p.m. in the McAllister Tower Sky Room. RSVP here to attend.