Bruce E. Meyerson Lecture

Bruce E. Meyerson Lecture

Difficult Conversations in Polarizing Times with Sheila Heen

March 11, 2024

Beus Center for Law and Society, W. P. Carey Foundation Armstrong Great Hall

We were delighted to feature Professor and Deputy Director of the Harvard Negotiation Project Sheila Heen at the 7th Annual Bruce E. Meyerson Lecture on Dispute Resolution on March 11, 2024. Difficult Conversations live at the heart of human relationships – whether in the dining room, the conference room, or the town square. How we handle these conversations shapes the nature and health of those relationships, fostering resilience or fragility. We’ll look at what we’ve learned over the last few decades about what gets us stuck and what helps in our individual relationships. And we’ll reflect together on how this applies to the health of our communities in an age of polarized rhetoric, binary thinking, and moral judgment. How do we learn to hold more than one view as essential and work to hear each other?

Guest Lecturer

Sheila Heen

Sheila Heen

Sheila Heen is the Thaddeus R. Beal Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School, where she directs the negotiation teaching program. She is Deputy Director of the Harvard Negotiation Project and a Founder of Triad Consulting. She has written two New York Times bestsellers, “Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most” with Douglas Stone and Bruce Patton (3rd ed., Penguin 2023), and Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well (Even When It’s Off-Base, Unfair, Poorly Delivered, and Frankly, You’re Not in the Mood)” with Douglas Stone (Viking/Penguin, 2014). She is schooled in negotiation daily by her three children.

About the lecture

This lecture series is the result of a gift to the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University from retired Judge Bruce E. Meyerson and his wife Mary Ellen Simonson, a graduate of ASU Law. The purpose of the lecture series is to bring to ASU Law leading practitioners and scholars in the field of dispute resolution.

Judge Meyerson moved to Arizona with his family in 1958 and, after receiving his undergraduate degree from Arizona State University, he graduated law school from the Georgetown University Law Center where he was an Editor of the Law Journal. Upon his return to Arizona, he represented the United Farm Workers of America, then led by Cesar Chavez. In 1974, with the help of many local attorneys, he founded and became the first Executive Director of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, which continues its successful public interest work today. For his distinguished and landmark work there, Judge Meyerson was honored by the Arizona Consumers Council, the Arizona Civil Liberties Union, the Arizona Community Action Association, and the journalism society, Sigma Delta Chi.

In 1982 Judge Meyerson became the youngest appointee to the Arizona Court of Appeals, where he served with distinction for almost five years. During his tenure he wrote numerous decisions that remain good law today, including an important decision establishing the procedure for the determination of attorney’s fee awards in contract cases. After leaving the bench, Judge Meyerson became the General Counsel of Arizona State University and later joined two prestigious Phoenix law firms, before focusing his practice on dispute resolution.

Judge Meyerson is a nationally acclaimed practitioner and instructor in the field of dispute resolution. He has resolved nearly 3000 mediations over his career and has been the Chair of the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution and the Chair of the Arizona Bar’s Section of Dispute Resolution. He also has served as an arbitrator in over 250 cases. For over 30 years, Judge Meyerson has served as an Adjunct Professor at the College of Law, teaching courses in arbitration and mediation.

Judge Meyerson’s wife, Mary Ellen Simonson, is a partner in the Phoenix law firm, Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie. They have two children, Julia and Meghan, and son-in-law Peter Keane, and grandchildren Greer and William.

Past lectures

2024 - Sheila Heen


2023 - Governor Bill Richardson

2022 - Deborah Tannen

2021 - Alexandra Carter

2020 - Dr. Robert Cialdini

Dr. Robert Cialdini

2019 - David Boies

David Boies

2018 - Ken Feinberg