Four students from BYU Law recently competed in the regional competition of the ABA Law Student Division, Negotiation Competition, at the Texas Tech University School of Law. Teams representing 22 schools competed in the event. Brynn Wistisen and Colton Matheson comprised one team while Ashley Moulder and Maurissa Weight comprised another. Wistisen and Matheson advanced to the finals after two preliminary rounds and took third place. They qualified to compete at the national competition in Chicago in February 2017.
The competition required students to act as lawyers in simulated legal negotiations observed by judges. This year’s negotiation topic was “business law.” Wistisen explained that they prepared long before the competition. “We came to Texas prepared to negotiate using various styles and tactics, having everything memorized,” she said. “[We] spent several weeks preparing and refining our strategies.”
Matheson explained how they prepared their strategy. “[As partners], we addressed issues presented in the case study,” he said. “We analyzed the issues, determined how those issues aligned with the interests of our client, and then developed a plan of attack to ensure that during our negotiation we properly represented our client’s interests and obtained the most favorable outcome for our client.”
In addition to preparing strategies, the students prepared by looking for objective criteria to include in their negotiations, discussing what they would be willing to agree upon, and meeting with their coach, BYU Law Professor Ben Cook.
Moulder found the competition to be a valuable learning experience. “I learned a variety of negotiation styles,” she said. “There are a lot of ways to negotiate well, and we learned how to blend our style with those of others.”
Weight agreed. “Every person has their own unique negotiating style, and it is impossible to predict the process or outcome of a particular negotiation. We learned how to better adapt to these unpredictable circumstances,” she said.
Matheson believes the competition will help him in the future. “These competitions are incredibly beneficial to my education and future career because they simulate real world situations and provide practical experience in a vital real world skill,” he said. “Specifically, I learned the value of having information available to support your positions. By having credible, objective information supporting our assertions, we had a more solid foundation upon which to position ourselves.”