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Liberty Law takes fifth place honors in world negotiation competition

July 14, 2016

Liberty University School of Law represented the United States in the International Negotiation Competition (INC) held at the University of Lucerne on July 4-9, 2016. Liberty Law’s team captured a fifth-place finish out of 21 countries invited to compete in this annual world competition.

The Liberty team of Chris Collins and Mia Yugo, both of whom recently graduated from Liberty Law and are now studying for the bar exam, traveled to Lucerne, Switzerland, after earning a second-place finish in the 2016 ABA National Negotiation Competition held in San Diego, California. During the national ABA competition, Mr. Collins had teamed up with Katerina Silcox. Because Ms. Silcox was unable to attend the international competition, Ms. Yugo was selected as the team alternate based upon her other competition wins on behalf of Liberty Law.

Professor Joel Hesch was the primary coach for the Liberty University Negotiation teams and Professor Grant Rost assisted in coaching and also traveled with the team to Switzerland.   

The competition consisted of three rounds of negotiations using an international business transaction fact pattern. Each team was provided with secret facts to represent a client in a complex fact pattern. In the first two rounds, the teams had 60 minutes of negotiation and were judged based on strategy, style, creative solutions, and outcome.

All rounds were conducted in English regardless of the team’s country of origin. Each round was scored by a panel of three international judges with no elimination rounds. Since the tournament was based in Switzerland, the tournament problems for all three rounds involved various business scenarios related to the production of chocolate and what that entails on an international scale—buying beans from a producer in one country, shipping them to another buyer in another country, labor issues related to cacao farming, and pairing with other businesses to mass produce a specific type of haute chocolate.

In the first two rounds, Liberty faced Northern Ireland and Norway. The final round was more complex and consisted of a four-way negotiation against teams from Indonesia, South Korea, and Switzerland. After the three rounds were completed, the scores from each round were combined. Liberty Law earned the fifth highest score out of the 24 teams competing.

According to Hesch, “Liberty is quickly becoming recognized as a negotiation powerhouse in the United States. In the 10 years that Liberty has been competing in the ABA Regional Negotiation competition, it has won the event three times, earned second place three times, and never placed lower than fifth place. Based upon its placement at regionals, in the past 10 years, eight Liberty teams have been invited to the ABA National Tournament and have been ranked in the top 20 teams in the country.”

Liberty has also won other national negotiation competitions, including the National Basketball Negotiation Competition hosted by Fordham Law School in New York (2014 and 2016), the National Entertainment Negotiation Competition hosted by Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles (2010 and 2011), and the National Environmental Law Competition hosted by Richmond School of Law (2007).

According to Rost, ”Chris and Mia really conducted themselves beautifully. They were firm when they needed to be firm. They gave ground when they had to give it. Throughout the tournament, they were ethical, professional, and polite. Their hard work and preparation were always evident and I couldn’t be prouder.”

On behalf of the Liberty Law team, Ms. Yugo said, “We would like to thank Professor Joel D. Hesch for sharing his expertise and wisdom in the field of negotiations. We could not have asked for a better coach. The ‘Hesch Method’ was the talk of the town throughout the tournament and noticed by all of our competitors to such extent that we received invitations to visit other countries, which currently use only the Harvard Method of negotiating, to teach them the ‘Hesch Method’ after watching our rounds. We could not be more honored to have represented the United States of America. Thank you, also, to Professors Grant Rost and Yuri Mantilla for assisting with our preparations. We are grateful to Liberty University and President Falwell for their support. Above all, we thank God for this incredible opportunity to build partnerships between nations.”