April 28, 2023 : By Jacob Couch - Office of Communications & Public Engagement
The Liberty University School of Law mediation team’s recent third-place finish at the American Bar Association (ABA) National Mediation Competition is evidence of the rigorous practical training that Liberty Law’s competition teams have afforded students since the school’s inception in 2004.
The team, composed of second-year law students Roniqua Archer and Chavioleyette Fenelus, won the ABA Regional Representation Mediation Competition hosted virtually by St. Mary’s University School of Law in early March, beating out over 80 teams to punch their ticket to the ABA National Mediation Competition held at St. Mary’s School of Law in San Antonio April 15-16. The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law came in first place and Arizona State Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law was the runner-up.
“Considering that more than 80 teams from around the country competed in the regional tournaments, this is an exceptional achievement,” Liberty Law professor and mediation team coach Dr. Yuri Mantilla said. “I am blessed to be the coach of this amazing team. The Liberty Law team has done an outstanding work in diligently preparing for the national competition, and their performance in each round of the tournament. They effectively demonstrated their unique talents in the field of mediation.”
This year, Liberty fielded two mediation teams. The fellow duo of Jordan Jalil and Rachel Worley lost to Archer and Fenelus at regionals.
The students practiced real-world mediation, working on behalf of both the prosecution and defense, while learning effective problem-solving techniques through representing clients during the mock mediations.
“I think we are creating ways for more exposure to be brought to the school and to the program,” Archer said. “I’m hoping that by us going forth and doing this competition this year, it can be utilized by other students to get that experience because I believe mediation and other forms of advocacy need to be recognized more.”
Fenelus said that being able to practice mediation puts her at an advantage and has taught her the importance of seeking to make the result beneficial for all parties involved.
“I am ahead of the game in that I understand what it means to advocate for an institutional client,” she said. “In mediation, it’s a real opportunity to look at the case and see how everyone can win as opposed to just my side.”