The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law March 2012
ADR @ Moritz

Negotiation Team Competes at ABA National Competition

The Midwest Regional Negotiation champions, Kwame Christian ’13 and Chris Bordenave ’12, competed in the 28th annual ABA Negotiation National Competition on February 3 and 4 in New Orleans. Twenty-four teams competed in the National Competition. The Moritz team advanced beyond the opening round and was ranked as high as fifth place going into the semifinals but ultimately did not advance to the finals.

The competition format simulates legal negotiations, consisting of a common set of facts known by all participants and confidential information known only to the participants representing each side. All of the negotiations dealt with this year’s general topic of real property, but the negotiation situation varied during each round of the competition. Kwame explained that the competition field was tough and “each team was extremely talented, extremely well prepared and the competition allowed the [Moritz] team to be exposed to an incredible diversity of personalities and strategies.”

In the first round Chris and Kwame represented an elderly woman against a team representing a university who wanted to purchase her house. At first, the teams battled about the agenda, but after both sides agreed to compromise about the agenda and work together, the negotiation went smoothly. In the second negotiation, the team represented a city zoning commission considering a zoning variance requested by a university represented by the other side. This negotiation went well, as the Moritz team was able to get nearly everything their fictional client wanted. The team prepared well in brainstorming many possible options and during the round Chris was able to tell the other team, “I will give you just five options, I don’t want to overwhelm you with any more.” The Moritz team received praise from the judges for this statement and their multiple creative options for mutual gain.

After the first two rounds on the Saturday, the team was hosted at a banquet for all of the competitors. There, they received their awards for winning the regional qualifier and heard speeches from members of the ABA. At the end of the banquet, they found out they had advanced to the semi-final round by coming in fifth among the 24 teams. Despite a hard fought semi-final round on Sunday, they did not advance to the 4-team final. However, Kwame stated that “exposure to new strategies in that round made the national competition an invaluable learning experience.”

Chris stated that it was wonderful to represent the Moritz at the national competition, and Kwame reiterated that it was an honor to represent the school at the competition. “The team felt really supported. A week before the competition professors and students went out of their way to tell us good luck at the national competition,” Chris explained. He continued that they were surprised how many students, faculty, and staff congratulated them on making it to the competition and advancing past the opening rounds. Both members were proud to represent Ohio State at the national level and wanted to make the school and student body proud. Kwame explained that representing the school makes “the competition about more than just personal success, but the weight of all of your friends, the faculty and the reputation of the law school is on your shoulders.” He continued that the team took the burden and privilege to represent Moritz very seriously. Chris reiterated that through all of the support “the team felt like the whole school was alongside them every step of the journey to nationals.”

“Kwame and Chris should be very proud of their accomplishments,” said team coach and Langdon Fellow Rishi Batra. “They worked very hard and gave up nights and weekends to prepare for both the regional and national competitions. It was a real pleasure to help them along the way.”

Outside of the intense competition, the team was able to enjoy the host city of New Orleans. Chris’s aunt and uncle, who live in the area, were able to come to the national competition to cheer on the team, where they were joined by Kwame’s family who made the trip from Ohio. On the last day, the team was able to go on a driving tour of the city and visit the historic 9th ward, which was heavily impacted by Hurricane Katrina.

The team will have another national negotiation competition the weekend of March 9-11th at the Black Law Student Association competition in Washington, D.C. This competition has a slightly different format, so the team explained that there will be new challenges for them. They mentioned that Professor Batra has been instrumental in their preparation, helping them anticipate what information may be beneficial to each side. The team has enjoyed working together this school year and looks forward to representing Moritz in their final competition.

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Erin Archerd
Langdon Fellow in Dispute Resolution
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The Caucus, the newsletter published by the Moritz Program on Dispute Resolution, is designed to share ADR news with the Moritz community and beyond, as well as provide Moritz students with information regarding externship and employment opportunities. Questions regarding this publication should be directed to Erin Archerd, Langdon Fellow in Dispute Resolution.