How to Participate

Representation in Mediation Competition and

1-Credit “Advocacy in Mediation” Optional Course

The School of Law’s “Representation in Mediation Competition” is a great experience for law students. Its popularity among students has grown considerably over the last several years. This year’s competition will be held on Saturday, November 18 from 8:15 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Participation is limited to 2nd and 3rd year law students. First year students are encouraged to contact the student Alternative Dispute Resolution Society (ADR) officers if they want to help run the Competition (contact Margaret McKenzie mlmckenz@buffalo.edu, Luwing Peche Loayza luwingpe@buffalo.edu Kaylan Porter kaylanpo@buffalo.edu) and Ally Frainier anfraini@buffalo.edu).

As an increasing number of civil legal cases are referred to mediation, it is vital that the lawyer accompanying his or her client to the mediation table has the knowledge and skill-set necessary to maximize a client’s results in this context. The interaction of lawyer and client and the use of interest-based problem solving is the focus of the Representation in Mediation Competition. The Competition consists of two rounds. Law students form attorney-client teams and are given two different dispute scenarios. The scenarios are distributed to law schools by the Dispute Resolution Section of the American Bar Association (ABA). As a team, students strategize and prepare to negotiate at the two mediation sessions. On the day of the Competition, the teams engage in negotiations with an opposing attorney-client team (using the two different legal disputes in a morning and afternoon round), with a professional mediator from the community at the table to facilitate. A lawyer or other professional with mediation advocacy knowledge will also be present to score the rounds and to give feedback to the teams. The students are judged on preparation, teamwork, how well the interests of the client are represented, how well the mediation process is used to promote those interests, and other elements of effective advocacy in mediation.

To learn more about the Competition and its rules (we follow the ABA rules, so students must know these for our Competition), visit the ABA (the 2017-2018 rules have not come out yet, but last year’s rules should suffice for now, as they do not change significantly from year to year).

The two winning teams will represent our law school and will be sent by our law school to compete against several other schools at the ABA Regional Representation in Mediation Competition (the location to be determined). If one of our teams wins the Regionals, that team will be sent by the law school to the ABA National Competition in April 2018 in Washington, D.C.! Last year our team won the Regionals and was one of ten teams to compete in the Nationals!

There is no requirement that students have any education or background in mediation or negotiation to participate in the Competition. The deadline to register for the Competition is Monday, October 16.

There are 2 ways to participate in the Representation in Mediation Competition:

Option 1 - Participating as part of a 1-credit course #570 - Advocacy in Mediation.

To choose this option you must complete the following steps:

Step 1 - By Monday, October 16, signing up with a partner as a team by registering online

By submitting a registration form with both team members’ names on it, you are promising that you are both going to follow through with this commitment (including the Regional and National Competitions if your team makes it!).

If one team member takes the one-credit Advocacy in Mediation course and the other team member decides not to take the course, this is perfectly fine. If you do not have a partner for the Competition, but would like to participate, submit your registration form with just your name on it for now, and clearly and prominently indicate on the form that you need a partner. While we cannot guarantee that we can find you a partner, we will try to randomly pair you with another student that submits a registration form that indicates the need for a partner. You cannot participate in the Competition and receive course credit unless you have a partner. In the event we have too many registrants to accommodate in the Competition, students taking the one-credit course and third-year law students with partners would have preference, and second-year law students not taking the course would be chosen by lottery.    

Step 2 -  Registering for the course by sending an email to law-advocacy@buffalo.edu by October 12 expressing your commitment to sign up for the course. 

Step 3 - Mandatory attendance at two classes on attorney advocacy in mediation in advance of the Competition (Class one on Saturday, October 14 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Class two on Saturday, October 28th from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.—both classes would meet in O’Brian room 108); and, (b.) mandatory attendance at a further 3 hour class after the Competition at a time and venue to be mutually determined (including a complimentary celebratory meal for your efforts). There will be required readings regarding effective mediation advocacy. 

Step 4 - Participating in the Representation in Mediation Competition on Saturday November 18 (from approximately 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.).

Step 5 - Writing a short reflective paper on the Competition experience and what you learned about effective client advocacy at the mediation table (and integrating concepts from the required readings). This paper is due within 2 weeks after the Competition.    

Note

If you have already received course credit last year, you may not do so again, but you CAN still fully participate in the Competition (see Option 2 below). 

Option 2 - Participating, but NOT for credit.

Participating, but NOT for course credit.  Participating in this manner involves:

Step 1 - 1.) By Monday, October 16, signing up with a partner as a team by registering online.

By submitting a registration form with both team members’ names on it, you are promising that you are both going to follow through with this commitment (including the Regional and National Competitions if your team makes it!).

If one team member takes the one-credit Advocacy in Mediation course and the other team member decides not to take the course, this is perfectly fine. If you do not have a partner for the Competition, but would like to participate, submit your registration form with just your name on it for now, and clearly and prominently indicate on the form that you need a partner. While we cannot guarantee that we can find you a partner, we will try to randomly pair you with another student that submits a registration form that indicates the need for a partner. You cannot participate in the Competition and receive course credit unless you have a partner. In the event we have too many registrants to accommodate in the Competition, students taking the one-credit course and third-year law students with partners would have preference, and second-year law students not taking the course would be chosen by lottery.

Step 2 - Having at least one member of your team (although preferably both) come to an informational session during the first portion of the Advocacy in Mediation class on Saturday, October 14 from 1:00 to 2:15 p.m. (full class goes until 4:00 if taking the one credit course referenced above) in O’Brian Room 108. This attendance of at least one member of your team is mandatory for your team to compete (unless you have special permission from Professor Sugarman for neither to attend). The informational session on October 14 will contain important information about the Competition and will get into general mediation advocacy concepts. If you are not taking it for credit, you do not have to stay for the second part of the first class or come to the second Advocacy in Mediation class (on Saturday, October 28 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in O’Brian Room 108), although you may attend both (not for credit) if you would like to improve your skills, and perhaps enhance your chances of success in the Competition (please let Professor Sugarman know in advance if you choose to do this).    

Step 3 - Participating in the Representation in Mediation Competition on November 18 (approximately 8:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.).

Whether taking the one-credit course or not, students year after year express how much they learn from participating in this Competition in their journey to becoming lawyers. If there are any questions or concerns, please email The Advocacy Institute at law-advocacy@buffalo.edu or Professor Sugarman at stevesug@buffalo.edu.