Michèle Huff

Michèle Huff

I was born and raised in New York City, and attended the Lyçee Français de New York and the Brearley School. Armed with a B.A in Romance Languages from Colorado College, I began my legal career as a paralegal at Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro. I knew I wanted to be a lawyer and attended the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

In 1985,  graduating magna cum laude, I practiced intellectual property law and learned the art of transactional work at Brown & Bain in Palo Alto. I was fascinated by science & technology and negotiated my way into a job with Sun Microsystems. I spent eight years as in-house counsel, becoming a Director in the Labs and involved in a number of cutting-edge projects, including the Java programming environment. I served as a strategic advisor and negotiated several licensing deals with major Japanese customers, but more importantly, knew when to walk away from a deal (Microsoft).

The nineties were booming, a time of spectacular technological advances, but my life was out of balance. In 1996, I sold the house, quit my job, and moved to Taos, New Mexico. I had become enchanted with that region and vowed, at 18, to retire there one day. I was only 38, but my father had died young (54) and I felt I didn’t have the luxury of waiting.  Taos offered the space and time to learn meditation, attend retreats, travel to Jerusalem, up the Nile and down the Colorado, write a novel (never published), and recharge my batteries. Three years later, I returned to Palo Alto to help a friend start Kalepa Networks as its business development officer. The company received venture funding to build peer-to-peer software, but the events of 9/11 derailed our efforts. The VC merged the company, so I moved back to New Mexico.

After a series of transformational experiences –attending a semester of Chinese medicine school and a trip to Tanzania, Africa– I started my own law practice. The Archer Law Group worked with small and mid-sized technology and arts companies to protect and license their creative properties. I served on the boards of the Santa Fe Business Incubator and the Santa Fe library, and gave pro bono talks to community organizations about negotiation and intellectual property licensing. I began writing The Transformative Negotiator, observations on how to bring spiritual energy into legal and business negotiations.

The speaking and volunteering led to an adjunct role at the University of New Mexico’s School of Law teaching IP licensing to third year students. That led to a full time position in the University’s legal department working on intellectual property, technology, and research. I have been at the University for five years, serving in various leadership roles, and was chosen by Albuquerque Business First to receive a 2014 Women of Influence award.  After the publication of my book in April of 2015, I started sharing the lessons of transformative negotiation to various cohorts in-state, and around the country (see “Past Events”, below).  In the fall of 2017, Christina Rader, Assistant Professor of Economics and Business at Colorado College starting using the book in her EC113 Negotiations course, and invites me to participate in two classes as a visiting lecturer.

Also in the fall of 2017, after more than twenty years in New Mexico, I returned to the Bay area to start my career as a negotiator at UC Berkeley’s Office of Business Contracts and Brand Protection. My younger brother Gerald and his wife Judy graciously offered me space in their home on Mariposa Avenue in Berkeley, a little over a mile from campus. I assumed leadership of the business unit when my boss retired in June, but in the fall of 2018, Gerald was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I felt helpless –it quickly became clear that this situation was non-negotiable– but my brother was determined to channel his limited energy into publishing his novel Crisis: 2038, a techno thriller with a moral imperative. I started negotiating with BookBaby to fast track the manuscript, and they were not only responsive, but highly empathetic to our unique situation. Seven weeks after diagnosis, at the tender age of 54 (the same age my father died of the same disease), Gerald lost his battle, one day after BookBaby released the Kindle version on Amazon.

Past Events

“What Lies Beyond “Win-Win” Negotiations: How to Practice Transformative Negotiation” presented at the 7th annual Next Opportunity at Work Conference at UC Berkeley.
“Transformative Negotiation” presented at Picture the Future, BE the Future, SHRM New Mexico State Conference.
Transformative Negotiation, presented at Selling Peace in an Adversarial World conference of the Academy of Professional Family Mediators.

Transformative Negotiation, Mediation and Conflict Resolution Certificate program, UNM Continuing Education course.

Transformative Negotiation, class for Employee Organization Development, UNM.
Negotiating FERPA-Compliant TOU/TOS” presented to GSV Labs.
Partnerships and Negotiation” presented to Creative-Startups at Global Center for Cultural Entrepreneurship.
“Transformative Negotiation: Beyond Win-Win” presented at NBIA’s 28th International Conference on Business Incubation.

“Huff layers MBA level negotiation theory, lifelong experience, cross-cultural negotiation and practice of deeper wisdom in a series of clearly explained and immensely pragmatic examples. The Transformative Negotiator stresses the brain/body connection, our interdependence as human beings, as well as meditation techniques that lead to successful outcomes. It is a book you want to have handy in the midst of any negotiation from teenage kids to members of the board.”

Miko Matsumura

Speaker, Silicon Valley Startup Advisor, Technology Evangelist and author of the blog www.miko.com