Law Students' Negotiation Success
Four Law students from the School of Law, Criminal Justice and Computing at Canterbury Christ Church University have competed in the National Negotiation Competition for Law Schools.
James Mohajer, Year 2 Law with Politics & International Relations and Patience Quartey, Year 3 Legal Studies and Applied Criminology, came first in their heats at the University of Law in York with Lisa Martin and Nyasha Size narrowly missing out on qualification for the finals. James and Patience went on to compete in the finals of the competition in March held in Central London at UCL and whilst they put in a commendable performance, were beaten by strong competition and the eventual winners were a team representing the University of Kent.
Ben Waters, Senior Lecturer in Law and non-practising solicitor at CCCU, who was responsible for preparing the students for the competition said: “The competition is a great opportunity for students to put into practice some of the very useful practical legal skills which they have acquired not only in extra-curricular negotiation workshops, but for some of the students it brings to life the theory they have learned in the Year 2 module Theory of Dispute Resolution, for which students gain academic credit and which forms part of the dispute resolution pathway which runs through the levels of the Qualifying Law Degree at CCCU.”
This year a total of 68 teams from 34 institutions in England and Wales took part in the regional heats held in Bristol, Kingston-Upon-Thames and York. A total of 12 teams proceeded to national finals at the Law School at UCL in London on March 21st. The University of Kent who were the eventual winners of the national finals will go on to represent England and Wales in the International Negotiation Competition, which develops students’ negotiation skills in the context of international transactions and disputes and this year will be held in Dublin at The Law Society of Ireland in July.
Prior to the final all the competition finalists attended a training day delivered by the sponsors of the event, The Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) at the International Dispute Resolution Centre, 70 Fleet Street, London. This gave students a chance to learn about some of the more theoretical aspects of the negotiating process in more depth from experienced negotiation trainers.
Our two finalists should be congratulated on their achievement. Only one other team from CCCU has reached the finals back in 2010 and only two British teams have won the international finals since 1998; the University of Leicester in Singapore in 2007 and Inns of Court School of Law in California in 2001.
The dispute resolution pathway which runs through the LLB Law Degree at CCCU is unique and innovative. It helps to bring together theory and practice and is informed in its delivery by the work of the university’s Mediation Clinic which provides an alternative dispute resolution service underpinned by negotiation theory. Thanks are also due to John Morgan, Dr Tobias Kliem and Ellen-Gordon-Bouvier for assisting with the students’ preparations for the competition.
Notes about the competition
There were two negotiating rounds in the regional heats of the competition, and three in the national final including a ‘three-way’ negotiation. Ordinarily the format involves a team of two students representing a party/client (who is not present) and negotiating either a transaction or the resolution of a dispute with a team of two students form another Law School
Each team receives confidential instructions known only to the party/client they are representing a few days in advance of the competition. Typically, each round consists of a 50 minute negotiation session. At the end of which each team has an opportunity to analyse their performance and then provide their self-reflective analysis to the judges.
Each round is presided over by a panel of three judges who are usually Law faculty from the institutions participating, but also from other diverse backgrounds and who have all had negotiation experience. The judges are independent of the teams they are judging, and as a further precaution participating teams in each heat are identified only by a letter rather than by the name of the institution they are representing. The judges are required to judge the negotiation performances on the following criteria: (1) the apparent preparedness of a team; (2) its flexibility in deviating from plans or adapting a strategy; (3) the outcome; (4) teamwork; (5) relationship between the negotiating teams; (5) ethics; (6) the self-analysis.