By Sara Denton 2L On February 22, a group of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) team members packed themselves into vans and took off on a road trip to Tempe, Arizona for the annual ABA Regional Representation in Mediation Competition. Hosted by the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, the competition focused on attorney representation of clients in mediation and awarded those teams that effectively used both problem solving and advocacy skills in reaching an agreement for their client.
As a part of pre-trial procedure, a significant number of cases in the courts today are seen in a mediation environment. Law students
and lawyers are encouraged to acquaint themselves with skills inadvocating for their clients through mediation and this competition was an opportunity for students to be introduced to this growing areain the legal community, all while participating in some friendly competition. Mediating is a very important skill for attorneys, and “the method in which we advocate for our clients interest in a mediation environment,is much different from a litigation point of view,” says G. Lucia Valenzuela 1L.
Six schools, including Thomas Jefferson School of Law; California Western School of Law; University of La Verne College of Law; University of Utah, S.J Quinney College of Law; Phoenix School of Law; and Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, came together on Saturday, February 23 to compete for the regional title. Each school was represented by two teams, each composed of an “attorney” and a “client”.
Representing Thomas Jefferson School of Law were Alexander Green 2L, G. Lucia Valenzuela 2L, Lorena Garza 2L, and Sara Denton 2L.
For weeks leading up to the competition, both teams worked hard in their preparation with their coaches and other ADR team members to
tailor their performances to competition quality. Practice “spars” and self-evaluation practices allowed for each team to fine-tune their strategies and work through hypothetical situations and potential obstacles they may be faced with during the competition. The team coaches traveled with the competitors, continuing to provide guidance and assist their teams in each of their rounds. First-time coach Jonathan Stahler 2L said, “The competition was a valuable learning experience that will help me prepare accordingly for future competitions as a competitor and coach.”
Director of Advocacy and ADR programs for Thomas Jefferson School of Law, Professor Paul Spiegelman said he, “was enormously impressed with the performances of our teams and coaches. The problem was released late, only two weeks before the competition. With only Alex Green as an experienced competitor and rookies Sara Denton, Lorena Garza and Lucia Valenzuela, our two teams performances were remarkable and highly competitive with other teams. “We were well prepared, skilled in our presentations, imaginative in our solutions and insightful in our analysis,” said Denton. “I am looking forward to our now-seasoned members contributing to future successes. Our fine performances would not have been possible without able coaching from Tee Ho, Lena Smolinski, Matt Juhren, Garrett McLearen, Jonathan Stahler, Kale Sopoaga and Sam Ehrlich and the enormous support from the whole ADR team.”
Although neither team was crowned with the regional title, it was an experience that produced great memories and performances to be proud. As team competitor G. Lucia Valenzuela 1L said, “the lessons of mediation representation are going to be a great addition to my toolbox of skills.”
With the majority of the competitors being new to the ADR team, the process was a great opportunity for everyone to work together. As a first time competitor, “this competition was such a great experience. I am so appreciative of all the hard work, time, and dedication our fellow ADR members, coaches, Professor Spiegelman, and my partner, Lorena Garza. "I am certain that the skills I have learned from this experience will make me a better advocate for my future clients and better problem solver as an attorney” said Denton.
The ADR team is now preparing Sean Kelley 3L, Lawrence Kleinman 3L, Tim Thiel 3L, and Michael Morphew 2L for the upcoming Student Environmental Negotiation Competition on March 15 in San Francisco, California. On behalf of the entire ADR team, we wish all of our competitors the best of luck!
Photo #1: (girls) Left to Right: Elenasina "Lena" Smolinksi, G. Lucia Valenzuela, Samantha Birkner, Lorena Garza, Thanh Thanh Ho, Kale Sopoaga, Sara Denton Photo #2: (guys) Left to Right: Alexander Green, Jeremy Elias, Jonathan Stahler, Sam Ehrlich
Photo #3: Alternative Dispute Resolution Team with Professor Paul Spiegelman