The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law November 2011
ADR @ Moritz

Negotiations Team Headed to National Competition

After winning the largest Lawrence Negotiation Competition in school history, Kwame Christian, class of 2013, and Chris Bordenave, class of 2012, won the Region 6 Regional Competition at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law in Ottawa, Ontario, on November 12 and 13. The pair competed against 20 teams from 10 different law schools, and as winners will go on to represent Moritz in the national competition on February 3rd and 4th in New Orleans, Louisiana. The other Moritz team of Andy Gammill and Daniel Best, both class of 2013, also competed in the Regional but did not advance.

All qualifying teams competed in both a morning and evening round on Saturday. Four teams advanced to the final round on Sunday. The negotiations dealt with a contract for a home sale and a nuisance dispute, and the final round focused on premises liability.

Kwame Christian said that the team improved with each new negotiation and that the “final round was our best negotiation to date, we reached an agreement with ten minutes to spare, we were able to acquire everything that our client wanted and reached all of our possible maximums.”

He considered the Lawrence Competition a great way to prepare for Regionals, since Moritz is consistently a top-ranking school in Alternative Dispute Resolution, and there was a tough qualifying field due to the size of this year’s school wide competition. They expressed their gratitude to Professors Batra, Stulberg, and Rogers for taking the time to critique both qualifying teams after their practice rounds and teaching them how to properly deflect tough questions.

“Professor Stulberg’s advice to act natural really helped us in our final round. The last team came out very aggressive, and after shaking our hands, one of the other team members didn’t sit down but went straight to the board to lay out an agenda.” Kwame explained. “That’s not natural in a real life negotiation.” Chris added. As the other team tried to control the negotiation and rush out information, the Moritz team stayed calm, dictated the tone and laid out the exact order of the agenda. They felt their passive control helped them beat an overly aggressive team.

Kwame and Chris both said they had a great time at the competition and that they worked well together as a team because of their complementary personalities and familiarity with each other. Chris was Kwame’s BLSA mentor, and they are both members of an intramural basketball team. They say they are also both competitive—staying up till 5 am practicing by “sparring” with each other on Saturday morning after flight trouble the night before the competition.

Chris Bordenave said his favorite part about the regional competition was “competing against different schools. At the Lawrence Competition you might know the people you are competing against and how they will react to certain tactics, but when you compete against people not knowing their demeanor or their temper you are forced be more creative.”

The teams were coached by the Langdon Fellow in Dispute Resolution, Rishi Batra, who complimented the teams’ preparation. “Both teams worked very hard going into the competition, and it showed. They spent lots of time thinking through the problem from both sides, which is key to a good negotiation. This is a great accomplishment for the teams, and I know that Kwame and Chris will represent Moritz well at nationals.”

Chris mentioned that winning the competition made him feel that the long Saturday practices were worth it. He explained the pride he felt as the collaborative Moritz spirit carried to the competition. The other qualifying Moritz team, Daniel and Andy, watched their colleagues during the final round of the competition. “They were so supportive after we won and were as excited as we were. To see the pride in their hearts and that support after those long hours of practice together made the moment so special,” said Chris.

Article by Whitney Siehl, Moritz class of 2013.

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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.