The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law December 2009
ADR @ Moritz

Moritz Negotiations Team Advances to Nationals

Moritz students Catie Coleman (2011) and Beth Uhrich (2010) have advanced to the ABA Negotiation Competition National Finals. As runners-up in the ABA Regional Negotiation Competition, held at Thomas Cooley Law School’s Auburn Hills, Michigan campus on November 7 and 8, they received an at-large bid to the national competition, set for February 5 in Orlando, FL.

Also competing for Moritz in the regional competition were Jessica Kim (2011) and Ramsey Reid (2011), who finished fifth out of the field of twenty teams. Both teams were coached by Langdon Fellow Clymer Bardsley, with additional help from Professors Ruth Colker, Jim Brudney, and Josh Stulberg.

The cases being negotiated in this competition involved issues of employment law and discrimination law. Professors Colker and Brudney were kind enough to offer insight on the applicable law that really increased the understanding of the two teams’ bargaining positions. Moot negotiations were also incredibly helpful, and it was very generous of Professor Stulberg and second year law student Andrew Makoski to offer their time and feedback. Catie and Beth also mooted with a recent alumna with significant ADR experience, Michelle Mann. By the time the teams arrived in Michigan, they felt as prepared as possible.

On the first day of the competition, all teams competed in two rounds. In the first negotiation, there seemed to be a wide zone of agreement, and both Moritz teams reached settlements that satisfied the client’s interests. The second problem was much more frustrating. Early on, it became apparent that reaching an agreement was going to be difficult due to the lack of settlement authority of the negotiators on the other side; collaborative interest-based negotiations gave way to a more distributive and positional style of bargaining.

Following the first two rounds, Catie and Beth advanced to the final four. Jessica and Ramsey finished in fifth place, one point shy of the fourth place team. Nevertheless, the four Moritzers and coach Bardsley spent well into the night in the hotel helping to prepare the finalists by brainstorming and mooting. They tried to anticipate what the other side’s interests, positions, and proposed solutions would be. These predictions turned out to be remarkably accurate.

In the final round, Catie and Beth negotiated against a team from Ottawa, Canada, who ultimately won the competition. They were very proud to hear from both the judges and some observers that they were unsure who would win when the negotiations concluded. The Ottawa team was very polished, likely the strongest team in the field. Perhaps some opportunities were missed, but the team and Bardsley were very proud of the team’s performance.

Catie and Beth took away at least two important lessons from the final round. First, the competition prizes establishing and maintaining control throughout a negotiation. Second, it is important to consider asking for more than you think you can get, because sometimes you will get it.

The competition was rewarding for all. It is always a valuable change to close the casebooks and learn by doing. While Beth goes off to negotiate in the real world, Jessica, Ramsey, and Catie have the chance to apply what they learned this year in 2010, during next year’s Lawrence Negotiation Competition.

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The Ohio State University
Moritz College of Law
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Erin Archerd
Langdon Fellow in Dispute Resolution
(614) 688-4192

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.