Negotiating with Experience 

Adjunct Lecturer Kevin Sido brings nearly 50 years of law experience to the MPM classroom as he teaches students strategies to negotiate within the construction industry.

Kevin Sido has spent decades watching how television shows glamorize lawyers.  

TV makes it look like litigation lawyers spend their days hopping from courtroom to courtroom, rattling off heart-wrenching arguments and securing emotional victories. Beyond expanding the drama of courtroom scenes, what those shows don't depict is what takes the majority of most lawyers' time — and is key to any eventual success. 


Kevin Sido"There is a lot of preparation behind the scenes and a lot less glamour," said Sido, a partner at Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP law firm. "I enjoy the TV shows, but they don't really account for how much work there is in the back room." 

Sido should know. He's worked at Hinshaw & Culbertson since 1975.  

During that time, he specialized as a trial lawyer and transactional counsel for design and construction professionals, condominium directors, and real estate teams. He has also spent more than 20 years as a mediator for disputes within the construction industry. 

Sido joined Northwestern Engineering's Master of Science in Project Management (MPM) program as an adjunct lecturer in January 2023 to teach the winter quarter Negotiations course. 

"People do negotiations in everyday life," Sido said. "My biggest goal was to try to get students to take some of their instincts about negotiations and take them to the next level, if not the level above that, and learn some distinct strategies about negotiation." 

Sido has sharpened his negotiation skills throughout his career with Hinshaw & Culbertson, which he joined immediately after earning his law degree. Sido’s career started with a focus on insurance law and medical malpractice, the latter of which he said he “was never really fond of.”  

He was later paired with Tom Crisham, a partner who worked his way through undergraduate and law school as a structural ironworker. Crisham worked on a variety of interesting projects, including what would become known as the Richard J. Daley Center, which was completed in 1965 and was the first major public building built in Chicago with a modern architectural style. 

“Hearing Tom's stories and his knowledge of construction really caught on with me,” Sido said. “The next thing I knew, I was doing more construction law, and I was doing well with it.”  

Sido brought his knowhow to the classroom to help students understand how certain negotiation strategies work best in different scenarios on a job site.  

Joseph Carey (MPM '23) appreciated that breakdown of strategies, particularly when it came to position and interest.  

"Position in a negotiation is what you tell the other side, and interest is what you're keeping to yourself and do not want to share with the party across the table," Carey said. "Understanding your own side's position is important, but using what you know about the other side to understand their position is critical to a successful negotiation. When you take the time to understand the other side's position, and hypothesize about their interests, you can better anticipate their negotiation strategy and prepare for the most likely outcomes so your side is not caught off-guard by the other side and their requests or demands." 

Sido recognized that providing lessons in negotiations can be a long-term lesson for students, but he also understood the short-term benefits his class could bring. That is why he placed an emphasis on negotiating for jobs, not just within them. 

"Trying to be practical, I wanted our students to feel like they were learning something they could put to immediate use," he said. "My hope is that they were gaining information and confidence." 

Carey admitted he learned more than he imagined he would in the course. 

"Going into the course, I was excited for the opportunity to improve the communication and negotiation skills I already had, but I did not completely understand how important the lessons would be, and how much of a difference their application to my own interviews and meetings would be now, and for my future career," he said. "I believe that as I grow and develop my business acumen, the life lessons Professor Sido taught will be some of the most important pieces of information I take away from the MPM curriculum."  

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