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Liberty Finishes First and Second in ABA Negotiation Tournament

November 12, 2007

Liberty University School of Law took first and second place in the annual American Bar Association Negotiation Competition for Region 3. The National Finals will be held in Los Angeles, California February 8-9, 2008.

Each year the ABA holds national law school competitions for all ABA-approved law schools. This past weekend was the Negotiation Competition for Region 3, which consists of all schools in Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware. Each school is allowed to send two teams of two students. The regional competition was held at Widener University in Wilmington, Delaware.

Two weeks before the competition, each school is assigned one side of a problem and a client to represent. Students are judged on how well they perform in a variety of areas, including teamwork, ethics, strategy, faithfulness to their client’s objectives, progress during the time allotted, ability to maintain appropriate control over the negotiations, and ability to accurately appraise their strengths and weaknesses as competitors. Each negotiation lasts 50 minutes, followed by a 10-minute self analysis by each team.

The teams are judged by practicing attorneys who have extensive negotiation experience and are familiar with the area of law related to the problem. At the end of two rounds, the top four highest ranking teams advance to a final round the next day. That evening, they are given a new fact pattern, and they begin a new round of negotiations in the morning. The four teams compete before the same four judges and are ranked one through four.

After the first day of competition, both Liberty University School of Law teams advanced to the final round where they competed against teams from Georgetown and Washington & Lee. Liberty law students Janna Carter and Christina Whitehurst placed first while Derek Bush and Kevin Bailey captured second place. Georgetown Law School won third and Washington & Lee finished fourth.

Liberty University School of Law Professors Joel Hesch and David Gilbert coached the teams. Professor Rena Lindevaldsen, an expert in family law; Professor Philip Manns, an expert in tax; and attorney Joshua Dalrymple provided invaluable counsel.

Commenting on the team’s performance, Professor Hesch stated: “I am extremely proud of our students and their outstanding performance. I would place our Negotiation teams against any team in the country.”

Mathew Staver, Dean of Liberty University School of Law and Founder of Liberty Counsel, remarked: “I frequently remind our students that we all succeed when they succeed. I am proud of our students and faculty for their dedication to excellence. I am thrilled that Liberty took both of the top slots. Because we are a Christian school we believe that it is important to set our goals and standards high. At Liberty, ‘impossible’ is not a part of our vocabulary.”