2023 ABA Representation in Mediation Competition – National Finals Round

Rishi Batra (St. Mary’s) kindly provides us with a run-down of last weekend’s National Finals Round of the ABA Representation in Mediation Competition.  Thanks to Rishi, A.J. Bellido de Luna, the competition committee, and the entire team at St. Mary’s for doing a great job running the competition.  And, congratulations to all who made it to nationals, particularly this year’s national champion – (spoiler alert) – Ohio State !

On April 15th and 16th, St. Mary’s University School of Law hosted the American Bar Association (ABA) Representation in Mediation Competition National Finals in San Antonio, TX. This prestigious event featured eight outstanding teams, each of which had emerged as regional champions from a pool of 80 teams. St. Mary’s University School of Law and their Board of Advocates, led by Dean of Advocacy AJ Bellido de Luna, had previously organized the regional competitions in a virtual format over the weekends of March 10th and March 17th.

The esteemed institutions that sent their teams to the national finals were the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, California Western School of Law, Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Liberty University School of Law, Florida International University College of Law, and two teams from St. Mary’s University School of Law. These finalists excelled in the regional competitions, proving their skills in legal analysis, client advocacy, and problem-solving negotiation in the context of a mediation. In this competition, teams of two law students playing a lawyer and a client negotiate a case using the help of a volunteer mediator, and are evaluated on their analysis, strategy, and teamwork, learning both the challenges and potential of using mediation to resolve disputes.

In a change this year, the students mediated problems in the regionals and the finals based on real cases, with the “facts” coming directly from the case filings and opinions which the students needed to read and digest. The negotiable issues and confidential facts were meticulously designed by Clint Waasted of USF Law and Debra Berman of South Texas College of Law. Their careful attention to detail ensured that the competition provided a challenging and engaging experience for all participants.

In the semifinals, the teams from Liberty University and St. Mary’s University demonstrated their advocacy prowess alongside Arizona State University and The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. As the competition progressed, the final round came down to a showdown between Arizona State University and The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Both teams demonstrated exceptional skills and talent throughout the competition. Ultimately, the team of Alexandria Samons and Kyle Walker from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law triumphed in a very close final round, securing the title of National Champion in the ABA Representation in Mediation competition.

The efforts the competition committee, consisting of Connie Smothermon (Oklahoma), AJ Bellido de Luna (St. Mary’s), Clint Waasted (USF), and Erica Zepeda (ABA) allowed this competition to happen this year in the face of very difficult circumstances. Furthermore, the hard work and dedication of St. Mary’s University School of Law Board of Advocates and the student Competition Director, James Toye, in organizing both the regional and national competitions allowed the weekends to proceed smoothly and efficiently. The competition’s problems, expertly crafted by Clint Waasted and Debra Berman, significantly contributed to the event’s success, providing participants with a challenging and rewarding experience. St. Mary’s is also fortunate to have a dedicated group of alumni and local volunteers from the bench and bar who were able to provide a full complement of judges and mediators each round. Professor Rishi Batra from St. Mary’s served as the faculty host and administrator of the weekend’s competition. 

The ABA Representation in Mediation competition’s national finals at St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio showcased the passion, talent, and potential of the next generation of legal professionals. As the competition continues to expand and attract teams from across the nation, it will remain an exciting platform for aspiring legal advocates to learn about and hone their skills in mediation representation.

One thought on “2023 ABA Representation in Mediation Competition – National Finals Round”

  1. Rishi – thank you for sharing. I would like to echo your sentiments and say a huge thank you to the competition subcommittee for all of their hard work in making this competition happen! And thank you to A.J. Bellido de Luna and St. Mary’s for hosting Nationals! On a personal note, I’d like to thank the ABA and the competition committee for allowing the very important change this year to the use of actual lawsuits. It makes for a much more realistic and practice oriented experience for the students. If anyone is interested in seeing which cases were used in the regionals, please see below. We look forward to next year’s competition!

    Round 1 (Cope et. al. vs. Warner Records, et. al.)

    Link to court documents:

    Link to the video: https://youtu.be/oDK9L5RWMvo

    Round 2 (Kuyawa vs. Compass Mining)

    Link to court documents:

    Final Round (Zuckerman vs. Gonzalez)

    Link to court documents: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/10AGzXR1D07zIJglh3AVb_tfr3zxA2g2x?usp=share_link

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