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Creighton welcomes law students from 14 nations for negotiation contest

Nov 10, 2022
5 min Read
Eugene Curtin
Instructor with international students in full classroom.

The International Negotiation Competition (INC), the oldest international legal negotiation contest for law students, came home June 29 when approximately 60 students, judges, coaches and organizers from 14 countries came to Creighton University.

The event, after being conducted online for two years, resumed in-person competition June 29-July 2 at the Werner Institute at Creighton School of Law, a fitting location given that Creighton, along with Pepperdine University, founded the event in 1998.

Fourteen two-person negotiation teams from law schools in Canada, the United States, Scotland, Ireland, England, Wales, Norway, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, South Korea, Japan and Singapore competed. All had previously won their respective national competitions, which established them as the best student legal negotiators in the world.

Joshua Fershée, JD, dean of the School of Law, welcomed the competitors to Omaha, especially, he said, as Creighton had never previously hosted the contest despite being one of the competition’s two founding schools.

“We are just thrilled that you would take the time and put forward the expense and effort to join us,” he said.

Although the INC was making its Creighton debut, professor Rachel Goedken, JD, director of the Werner Institute, said the University has hosted many domestic and international alternative dispute resolution contests.

“These competitions allow students to refine skills they will use as lawyers and introduce them to other law students from around the country and world,” Goedken said. “Creighton law students compete in negotiation, mediation and arbitration competitions organized by the American Bar Association, as well as baseball salary arbitration and NFL negotiation competitions. Students also compete in international mediation competitions, including the International Dispute Resolution and Singapore International Mediation competitions.”

Larry Teply, JD, professor of law, who has been involved in the International Negotiation Competition for many years, led Creighton’s hosting responsibilities. As a member of the INC’s executive board, he also participated in drafting the negotiation problems used by the students.

The competition kicked off with a Master Class on Effective Dispute Resolution Clauses, taught by Goedken and Steve Anderson, vice president of the American Arbitration Association’s International Centre for Dispute Resolution. Attorneys from Microsoft and TotalEnergies joined the Master Class, discussing the importance of using alternative dispute resolution clauses to further business goals and resolve legal disputes without litigation.

For Gloria Hai-Young Shin and Jaewoo David Sung, both law students at Handong International Law School in Pohang, South Korea, the competition was an opportunity to interact with people from other cultures and a chance to step out of the courtroom.

“I have usually been involved in courtroom litigation,” Sung said. “But I am realizing through participating in negotiations that it doesn’t always have to be about winning and losing but that both parties can take something away.”

These competitions allow students to refine skills they will use as lawyers and introduce them to other law students from around the country and the world.
— Rachel Goedken, law professor and director of the Werner Institute

Shin said the rapid globalization of world economies makes the international understanding generated by such competitions invaluable.

“I believe we will have the chance to negotiate not just within Korea but with other countries around the world,” she said. “So, to have this opportunity hosted by Creighton is a blessing for me.”

Bas Braham and Henry Palmerlee, law students at Australian National University in Canberra, arrived at Creighton courtesy of a sponsorship from Herbert Smith Freehills, one of the world’s most renowned dispute resolution law firms. They were eager to shine.

“We have competed in five or six competitions together over the last two or three years and we’ve had success, so we thought this being the pinnacle of negotiation competition, we have to try it,” Braham said. “We’ve sort of dropped everything to come over.”

Palmerlee said he was keen to develop an understanding of how different cultures negotiate.

“The INC is very representative of what you will do as an international transactional lawyer,” he said. “You’ll meet people from different countries and see things somewhat differently. So, in terms of real-world skills this is a cool and unique opportunity.”

Great Britain was present in force, with England, Scotland and Wales all fielding their own teams, with neighboring Ireland standing alongside.

Frederick Way, an English lawyer and mediator with London’s Center for Effective Dispute Resolution, or CEDR, coached both the English and Welsh teams, drawn from the University of Exeter in England and Swansea University in Wales.

“Negotiation and dispute resolution are skills that people often don’t study, so it is important to give students the opportunity to practice real-life skills, to think of ways to solve problems, to learn different techniques,” he said. “And, of course, the international context allows students to meet students from all around the world, so it’s worth coming to Omaha to experience that.”

So, who won?

Australia’s Braham and Palmerlee, who no doubt will be happy to report their triumph to their law firm sponsors.

Rounding out the top three were Frederick Way’s Team England, consisting of students Emily Wanstall and Hazel Bannerman; and Team Ireland, consisting of Enya Levy and Kevin Barrett, both of University College Dublin.