W&L Negotiations Teams Finishes Fourth at National Championships

Lexington, VA Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Washington and Lee School of Law team of Mike Gardner '10L and Steve Mammarella '10L took fourth place at the American Bar Association's 2009 National Negotiations Competition, held in Boston February 14-15.

During the four rounds of competition, the W&L team competed against 24 teams from law schools spread across the ABA's ten student division regions. Four teams advanced to the final round, and each of those four teams was placed first by different judges at the end of the competition. However, when all scores were tallied, W&L came in fourth behind teams from Northwestern, University of California at Davis, and Florida International.

"This was a very demanding competition," explained Gardner.  "The fact patterns of the problems changed in the first two rounds, and unlike some teams in the semifinals and finals, we had to prepare representation for both sides of the same dispute. Ultimately, this helped us anticipate the other team's strategy because we had been on their side."

The negotiation competition tests students' practical legal skills by emphasizing teamwork and the ability to solve disputes in a negotiation, pre-trial setting. Teams of students acting as lawyers for opposing parties receive confidential information about how they can best represent their clients' interests. The teams work together in a limited time frame to find a compromise that is acceptable to both of their clients. The disputes used for all of this year's competitions centered on elder law.

"Throughout the competition, Mike and Steve did a great job adapting to other teams' approaches and really listening to what was being said rather than simply adhering to a predetermined strategy," said Mike Chiusano '09L, a member of the Moot Court board who travelled to the competition with the W&L team as student coach.

Gardner and Mammarella secured an invitation to Nationals following a second place finish at the regional competition held last November in Washington, D.C. They also finished second during the W&L competition, the Robert J. Grey, Jr. Negotiations Competition. In all, they devoted six months to preparation and competition for this extracurricular activity.

"There are few legal skills that matter more to clients, and to society, than skills in negotiation," said Rodney A. Smolla, dean of the School of Law. "The vast majority of legal matters handled day in and day out involve negotiation of one kind or another, and a large percentage of transactional practice and conflict resolution practice turns on the skills of lawyers in negotiating honorably, honestly, and effectively on behalf of clients. Congratulations to Mike and Steve for this personal victory, and for representing so well the values of Washington and Lee."

Negotiation is one of several ABA-sponsored competitions that help students develop the kind of practice skills they will employ as professional attorneys. Other competitions include Appellate Advocacy, Mock Trial, Mediation, and Client Counseling.


Mike Gardner, second from left, and Steve Mammarella, fourth from left, after the competition.

More Moot Court Results

Client Counseling The W&L team of Russell Kruse '09L and Bart Gengler '09L took Second Place at the Final Round of the American Bar Association Regional Client Counseling Competition, held in Richmond, VA from February 13-15, 2009. This competition evaluates students' ability to establish a rapport with the client, discover relevant facts, spot legal issues, and adhere to codes of professional responsibility. 

Mediation The team of Anthony Segura '09L and Will McLean '09L won W&L's Mediation Competition, held on February 11, 2009. During this competition, attorney/client teams of students meet in the presence of a mediator and work towards resolution of their difficulties. Students are evaluated on their ability to negotiate in a mediation setting and their balancing of the roles of client and attorney. 

For more information about Moot Court at Washington and Lee Law School, please visit http://law.wlu.edu/mootcourt.

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