How to Participate

Representation in Mediation Competition and

1-Credit “Advocacy in Mediation” Optional Course

UB School of Law’s “Representation in Mediation Competition” is a great practical learning experience for law students.  Its popularity among students and lawyers in our community has grown considerably over the last several years (over the last few years we have had as many as 48 law student competitors and 70 lawyer volunteers). This year’s competition will be held on Saturday, November 18th from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  Barring any last minute weather events or health crises, our plan is to run the Competition in-person at the law school.

Because an increasing number of civil legal cases are referred to mediation by the courts, or mediation is agreed to by both sides of a legal dispute, it is vital that the lawyer accompanying their client to the mediation table has the knowledge and skill-set necessary to maximize the client’s results in this context.  This Competition is great practice for future lawyers to hone their attorney advocacy and negotiation skills in a mediation setting. The interaction between lawyer and client and the use of interest-based problem solving is the focus of the Representation in Mediation Competition.

Participation is limited to 2nd and 3rd year law students.  However, we need the help of many 1st year students to help run the Competition by assisting the volunteer lawyers in each mediation session with the timing and rules (and in the process, the 1Ls learn how the Competition works for their own participation next year). So 1Ls are encouraged to contact one of the student ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) Society officers (listed below) to offer your help!

Each team consists of 2 law students —1 playing the role of the attorney and 1 playing the role of the client.  Each team member must play the role of the lawyer in one round and the client in the other round. The Competition consists of two rounds.  The teams are given two short fact patterns (a different one for each round) 2 to 3 weeks prior to the Competition. The scenarios are usually those distributed by the Dispute Resolution Section of the American Bar Association (“ABA”).  Teams then strategize and prepare to negotiate during the two mediation sessions.  On the day of the Competition, the teams engage in negotiations with an opposing attorney-client team, facilitated by a professional mediator from the community. Three or more lawyers and/or other professionals with mediation advocacy knowledge are present to score the rounds and give feedback to the teams.

Competitors 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 attorney advocacy in mediation as set forth in ABA scoring criteria. The ABA scoring criteria is in the process of being revised, but it is anticipated that it will not be very different that it has been in the past.  Last year’s version of the competition scoring criteria is at this link:

Please note, our competition will follow the 2023-2024 ABA Representation in Mediation Competition rules, which have not yet been released at this time. The new rules will be provided to participants once the ABA releases them.  We will go over the rules at the informational meeting on the morning of October 7th (see below).  The new rules will probably be very similar to the rules followed for the last 2 years, so if you would like to get an idea of rules generally, go to the following ABA link:

The two winning teams will represent our law school at the ABA Regional Representation in Mediation Competition in late February or early March 2024 (likely to be in person vs. virtual).  If one of our teams wins the Regionals, that team will compete in the ABA National Competition in April 2024. We have won the Regionals two times in the past, allowing us to be one of only ten teams in the US to compete in the Nationals!

There is no requirement that students have any education or background in mediation or negotiation to participate in this Competition.   Deadline to register for the Competition:  Wednesday, October 4th.


If you are NOT taking the one-credit Advocacy in Mediation Course (referenced below), late team registrations to participate in the Competition sent directly to Professor Sugarman MAY be considered.

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

If there are any questions or concerns, please contact:

President: Clare Smokowski  (
Vice President:  Maura Graham (
Secretary:  Victoria Heist  (
Treasurer:  Christian Soto  (

OR email Dawn Skopinski, Associate Director of the Advocacy Institute at ( or Prof. Steve Sugarman (