Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

Past Awards

Southwestern Packs a One-Two Punch at National Negotiation Competition

At the Lewis and Clark National Environmental Negotiation Competition, Southwestern's teams of Ilyssa Adler and Phillip Hall, and Jonathan Evans and Michael Laufer dominated, winning First and Second Place respectively. In the semi-finals, Adler and Hall defeated the team from U.C. Hastings while Evans and Laufer beat the home school, Lewis and Clark. As a result, both Southwestern teams advanced to the final round and faced off against each other.

"The edge that Southwestern has is our confident, cooperative style and the fact that we know the facts so well," Adler said. "We really dive in and take a strong interest in the problem and our clients."

Professor Cristina Knolton, co-advisor of the Negotiation Honors Program, and her husband Derek Knolton coached the teams to victory. "It is not the training for this one competition that made the teams so successful," Professor Knolton noted. "All four students began training for this competition in their respective LAWS Negotiation classes their first year in law school and continued to improve all year as a part of the Negotiation Honors Program." Read more.

Negotiation Teams Triumph Again with First and Third Place Finishes

Two teams from Southwestern's Negotiation Honors Program excelled at the National Government Contracts and Programs Negotiation Tournament hosted by Liberty University School of Law in Lynchburg, Virginia. The team of Perrin Davidson and Daniel Emmer earned First Place and the team of Christina Chang and Jack Jordan Oslin took Third Place honors.

The teams negotiated three problems, which involved various facets of the fictional Ameritana Postal Workers Union (APWU) and the Ameritana Postal Service and proposed budget cuts concerning the unions, closing rural post offices and pending legislation. Read more.

Negotiation Teams Take 1st and 3rd Place at National Competition

In a dominant performance, a pair of teams from Southwestern's Negotiation Honors Program earned First and Third Place at the 2011 National Sports Law Negotiation Competition & Symposium hosted by the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego. The team of Jennifer Allen (second-year day) and Timothy Sutton (third-year evening) won the competition while the team of Antwoin Wall (fourth-year evening) and Gayane Zorabian (third-year day) finished in a close third.

National Sports Law Negotiation Competition First Place Team
Jennifer Allen and Timothy Sutton

Southwestern's contingent competed against 20 teams from 15 law schools including UCLA School of Law, University of Virginia School of Law, George Mason University School of Law, and University of Michigan Law School. In a four-to-one decision, the winning duo of Allen and Sutton defeated a team from the University of California Hastings College of the Law. The final bench consisted of three appellate court justices, the President/CEO of the San Diego Padres as well as a sports agent.

"I am so proud of our program and this performance is such a wonderful reflection of the commitment of the entire team,"Associate Dean Nyree Gray said. "What a nice way to start the season!"

National Sports Law Negotiation Competition Third Place Team
Antwoin Wall and Gayane Zorabian

In less than a month, the teams prepared to argue two sports-related problems. "We practiced five to six days a week," Sutton said. "Our coaches Dean Gray and Professor Knolton were instrumental and irreplaceable fixtures of our preparation and strategy sessions. Each member of the Negotiation Honors Program sparred with us and/or watched our practice and gave us constructive feedback. The team as a whole is unbelievably dedicated."

The first problem was a possible endorsement deal between Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Clayton Kershaw and the sports drink company FRS to negotiate the extent of the media campaign, compensation and contractual commitments. The second problem involved a negotiation between Vikings NFL franchise and the City of Los Angeles over the possible relocation of the Vikings to Farmers Field as the "LA Vikings" in 2012. This problem dealt with numerous issues including, revenue streams and distribution between parties, tax income, job creation, land lease and acquisition, naming rights, advertising, premise use and liability, public infrastructure and transportation issues, as well as NFL merchandising and broadcasting.

Allen and Sutton had six hours to prepare for the final round, a trade proposition for salary revenue reduction between their client the Boston Celtics and the Denver Nuggets. Sutton explained that the problem was designed without a settlement zone, and the judges were instructed to base their decisions on "who they'd like to hire as their attorney." Additionally, scores were based upon an array of other professional and practical negotiating skills and techniques.

"Antwoin and Gayane were up all night with us, sparring and researching the problem. We could not have done this without the love, support, and dedication of our team members," said Sutton, who is also co-chair of the Negotiation Honors Program and editor-in-chief of The Commentator. "Our entire NHP team is a family that really supports one another and that dedication elevates all of us."

Negotiation Teams Wins National Environmental Law Competition

Negotiation Honors Program Winning Team

Third-year day student Jessica Rafipour and third-year evening student Antwoin Wall won First Place at the Lewis and Clark National Environmental Negotiation Competition, which was held at Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. In addition to Rafipour and Wall, Southwestern's other Negotiation Honors Program team of second-year day students Garrett Behrens and Tim Kuhl also advanced to the final round.

Six teams from three law schools competed, including Lewis and Clark, Willamette University College of Law and Southwestern. In both the semi-final and the final rounds, Southwestern's Rafipour and Wall defeated the host school.

"The key to our success was composed of two essential elements: active listening and teamwork," Wall said. "With negotiating, listening is as, if not more, critical than speaking. And our teamwork was amazing. By the time we arrived at the competition, we were practically able to finish each other's statements. The judges were very impressed at how well we worked together, but we could not have succeeded, especially in the final round, without the guidance of our coach, Kyle Marks '10 (former Chair of the Negotiation Honors Program). Kyle was instrumental in keeping us calm, focused, and ready to win."

For the two preliminary rounds, each team was given roughly three weeks to prepare for two problems. Once the teams advanced to the semi-finals, they were given the next problem on Saturday evening, and competed Sunday morning. For the final round, the team only had one hour to read the problem, strategize and finalize a game-plan for the negotiation. The problems focused on the impact that a state-of-the-art recycling facility would have on an eco-conscious coastal community, including impact to marine life, reputation of the community, and the financial costs and benefits of such a venture. This had to be balanced against the strong lobbying that takes place by environmental interest groups, as well as the role of government in generating revenue for the state without harming society in the process.

Wall explained that although he and Rafipour were both confident throughout the competition, they remained professional and reserved. "But when the runner-up team's name was announced, we knew that we had won," he said. "This victory has truly been one of the most exciting and gratifying experiences in law school!"

Preparation played an integral role in the both teams' success. Natalie Weatherford, Chair of the Negotiation Honors Program, planned out a schedule that required Southwestern's participants to argue against fellow teammates almost daily to prepare for competition.

"The opposing team was very challenging," Rafipour said. "I felt they were very strong and did not give into our strategies very much. But when we did hear our team name, my first thought was thank goodness all of our hard work and practices every week had paid off."

Southwestern Negotiation Teams Impress in National Competition

Southwestern made a notable debut at the Liberty University School of Law National Negotiation Competition as both of its representative teams advanced to the finals and finished within the top four spots. Andrew Sommers (second-year evening student) and Jenna Sleefe (SCALE II) took Third Place, and Philip Hall and Michael Laufer (both second-year day students) earned Fourth Place. Natalie Weatherford, chair of Southwestern's Negotiation Honors Program, and fellow board member Nathan Harpham coached both teams.

"We were the only school that had two teams move forward into the final round," Weatherford explained. "It was an absolute pleasure to coach both teams. They are incredibly skilled negotiators and have made invaluable contributions to the Negotiation Honors Program."

Twelve teams from seven different law schools competed. Other participating law schools included: University of California Hastings College of the Law, University of Maryland School of Law, Stetson University College of Law, University of North Carolina School of Law, Texas Wesleyan School of Law, and Regent University School of Law. While Southwestern's teams placed third and fourth behind teams from Stetson and Hastings, Sommers explained that only two points separated first from fourth place. "Our coaches and teammates did a great job of preparing us," he said.
The teams were originally given two problems and two weeks to prepare. However, "the final round problem was delivered to us on Friday night for the Saturday morning negotiation," Sommers explained. "Jenna and I represented a company that had lost a government contract to a smaller company who provided the lowest price bid, but the opponent's bid appeared to be insufficient based on other factors. Our job was to work with the other team to attempt to resolve the conflict over the bid."

Sleefe agreed that the strong teammates on both teams contributed to Southwestern's successful showing. "I was extremely lucky to be with Andrew, who has practical business experience and understood the policy behind the problem," she said. "Reading the statute and briefs behind the problem were great preparation. Also, our coaches' feedback and sparring rounds with other Negotiation Honors teammates was great practice."

Negotiation Team Takes Second at National Environmental Law Competition

(from left) Steven Diaz, Nydia Duenez, Kyle Marks, Natalie Weatherford and Dikran Sevlian

Southwestern's Negotiation Honors Program had great success at the recent Robert R. Merhige, Jr. National Environmental Negotiation Competition at the University of Richmond (Virginia), where the team of Steven Diaz and Nydia Duenez earned Second Place.

A total of 28 teams competed, representing law schools such as Pepperdine University, Boston College, University of Georgia, Cardozo, Stetson, Regent University, William and Mary and University of Virginia, among others.

In the semifinals, Southwestern's Diaz and Duenez defeated the team from the University of Georgia to make it to the final round, where they competed against the University of Richmond, Regent University, and Cardozo (Yeshiva University), ultimately finishing second to the host school.

With the help of the Southwestern's other competing team of Dikran Sevlian and Natalie Weatherford, they prepared for the final problem, which involved a negotiation between the Army Corps of Engineers and a local environmentalist/developer looking to build a "Wetlands Mitigation Bank" on the Neva River.

"It was amazing to place second at a competition at which we had never competed," said Kyle Marks, Chair of Southwestern's Negotiation Honors Program and coach for the competition. "Both teams worked hard into the night to create winning strategies for the new problem they received for the semi-final round. They also worked through lunch to ensure that Steven and Nydia would be fully prepared for the final round. I'm extremely proud of all of the students, as they represented Southwestern to an amazing degree!"

Two Negotiation Honors Program Teams Place in Paradise

Southwestern's Negotiation Honors Program sent two teams to Hawaii to compete in the 2010 ABA Client Counseling Competition, which was recently held at the University of Hawaii School of Law in Honolulu. Both performed exceptionally well. The team of Chad Derby and Natalie Weatherford earned Second Place and Kyle Marks and Alan Harris finished fourth.

Natalie Weatherford and Chad Derby

"Both teams had outstanding performances and independently had at least one judge give them perfect scores," said Professor Nyree Gray, who co-advised the teams with Professor Cristina Knolton. "We were the only law school with two teams to advance to the semifinal round. Our [Second Place] team had a very close match with UC Davis in the finals."

Southwestern's contingent competed against teams from law schools throughout California, Hawaii and Nevada, including UC Davis, University of Hawaii, Santa Clara, UC Hastings, Chapman, and UNLV. The issues they discussed dealt with a series of different problems related to the topic of white collar crime.

Kyle Marks and Alan Harris

"Our team practice helped immensely in the actual competition," Weatherford said. "In the weeks preceding the competition, we brainstormed and prepared for every conceivable legal issue that could come up... Professor Gray, as well as the entire negotiation team, helped us prepare for the competition by acting as clients and judges for our sparring rounds, and provided invaluable advice and critiques that really helped us refine our client counseling skills."

ABA Negotiation Team Returns with First Place Victory

The team of Whitney Ching and Daniel Horlick took the First Place team title as they defeated law students from Pepperdine University, UC Davis, and the University of San Diego in the final round of the regional ABA Negotiation Competition, which was held in San Diego during the first weekend in November. They argued both sides of an issue concerning guardianship in an elder law case. The winning team now advances to the national finals in February 2009 in Boston, where they will argue a new problem.

(from left) Daniel Horlick, Whitney
Ching, Joanna Allen and Kyle Marks

"Winning this competition was a very emotional experience," said Daniel Horlick. "We worked extremely hard for this competition, the team we faced in the finals was very intense, and the scoring was close." He credited the extensive practice sessions with Southwestern's other ABA Regional Negotiation Team, Kyle Marks and Joanna Allen, and faculty advisors Professors Nyree Gray and Christina Knolton for his team's "definitive edge over the other teams."

"We would go through each problem and spar, and we tried to anticipate different styles and facts that would come up," according to Professor Knolton, who said the team won because of their incredible ability to be patient, listen to their opposition, and be firm and confident in their oration. "Most importantly, judges in the final round said they really liked how Whitney and Daniel applied the facts of the law to support their arguments."