Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

Competition Rules

Competition Preparation

All schools that have properly registered for the competition will be provided the general facts for rounds one and two as well as the confidential facts for rounds one and two, by email on September 19, 2014, by 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time. Confidential facts for the third and final round will only be distributed to the four teams advancing to the final round.

Competitors must limit their preparation to the materials provided and may be penalized in scoring by the judges for reference to any other source. All questions concerning the competition problems should be directed by email to Any clarifications or responses to questions made concerning the problems will be directed to all participating schools by email to their designated contact person.

Unless otherwise provided for, no participating school with more than one team in the competition will be provided with the confidential facts for both sides of a problem for any competition round. Also, participating schools are not allowed to share confidential problem information with each other.

Competitor Requirements

During competition rounds, competitors may not bring or make reference to any outside source or visual aid, except for those specifically provided. This rule does not include access to whiteboards or easels, which will be setup and provided for the competitors.

Competitors are required to remain respectful towards one another at all points during the competition. Failure to do so may lead to a deduction in performance points by the judges, and possibly disqualification from the competition after a review by the competition supervisors (see Violations below). 

Competition Format

The number of teams competing in the competition is required to be a multiple of four.

Each team will be assigned a number or alphabetical designation for the competition. Pairings for the first round and second round will be assigned at random. Pairings for the final round will be conducted as described below (see Scoring Procedures). The competition rounds will consist of two teams, each team with two members. Each round of the competition will be structured in the following way:

  • Negotiation (45 minutes)
  • Self-evaluation preparation (10 minutes)
  • The lower numbered/alphabetical team gives self-evaluation (10 minutes)
  • The higher numbered/alphabetical team gives self-evaluation (10 minutes)
  • Judges comments (15 minutes)
  • TOTAL TIME per round: 90 minutes

Each team will be allowed a 5-minute break during the negotiation if they choose to use it, but the overall time for the round will not stop during a break. If a team elects to take a break, both teams are required to leave the room, and may not converse with any other competitors or persons. The teams may reenter the room at any point prior to expiration of the 5-minute break, but are required to be in the room at the expiration of the break. Judges may deduct performance points based on any violation of these rules.

Preparation for the self-evaluation portion of the rounds will take place outside the presence of judges, timekeeper and opposing team.

During the self-evaluation, each team should address the following two questions: (1) "In reflecting on the entire negotiation, if you faced a similar situation tomorrow, what would you do the same and what would you do differently?" (2) "How well did your strategy work in relation to the outcome?" The teams should also be prepared to answer additional questions from the judges concerning the team's performance. The time for the self-evaluation does not stop when a judge asks a question or when the team answers the judge's question. However, if a judge asks a question after, or right before, the ten-minute allotted time, the team will have extra time, at the timekeeper's discretion, to answer the judge's question.

Three judges and a timekeeper will oversee each round. The panel of judges overseeing each round will evaluate the performance of the competitors according to the criteria provided, and after observing a full completion of the round (i.e. Round 1a and 1b), will rank the teams in order of 1-4, with a rank of 1 being the best and 4 the worst. The score sheets for the first and second rounds will be collected after the self-evaluation and before the judges' comments for the second round. The judges are allowed to re-evaluate and change their scores from the first round after observing the second round.

While the judges are scoring, everyone except for the judges and the timekeeper must leave the room. However, everyone who had been in the room prior to the scoring can return to hear the judges' comments.

Competitors are allowed to keep their own time, but the round will begin and end according to the timekeeper overseeing the round, regardless of any discrepancies in time between that of the timekeeper and that of the competitors.

Scoring Procedures

After rounds one and two have been completed, and all teams have received a ranking of 1-4 for each round from each judge, advancement to the final round will be determined by:

  • The 4 teams with the lowest cumulative ranking
  • In the event of a tie in "1" above, the team that received the most 1's from all judges will move on to the finals.
  • In the event of a tie in "2" above, the finalists will be determined by a procedure according to the competition administrators.

Final Round

The final round will include 3 or more judges, to be determined, who will rank the finals teams in order of 1-4. The team with the lowest cumulative ranking after all of the judges rankings are totaled will be the winner.

Spectator Attendance

Provided that room is available, spectators, including team coaches, will be allowed to view rounds one and two in the room where teams from their school are competing. The spectators must be associated with the teams or the teams' schools in some way. No more than two spectators, including coaches, will be allowed to observe from each team. However, everyone is welcome to watch the final round. Spectators are not allowed to use electronics while observing a round. Spectators are not allowed to exit the room until the second self-evaluation has ended. At that time, all spectators will be required to leave the room while the judges tabulate their scores.

At no time will any spectator be allowed to talk with the judges inside the competition room prior to or during the round. Also, no spectator will be allowed to talk with a competitor once the round has begun, until the round has fully completed (after the judges' comments). Judges may use their discretion to allow/disallow spectator attendance.

Team Identification

Competitors (or any other school representative) are not allowed to divulge the name of the school they represent to any other competitor, judge, or school representative until the completion of the competition, except in situations where the divulgence is being made to a competition administrator (a representative from Southwestern Law School).

Replacement Teams/Failure of a Registered Team to Compete

In a situation where the number of competing teams does not accumulate to a multiple of four, whether from registration setbacks or failure of a registered team to show on a day of the competition, the competition administrators will provide for a "ghost team" comprised of board members (or other members if necessary) from Southwestern's Negotiation Honors Program. These members will be familiar with facts for the appropriate side of the problem they are representing. Judges will not be made aware of the existence of a "ghost team," and will score them like any other team, but the "ghost team" scores will not be tabulated and they will have no opportunity of advancing. The "ghost team" ranking will be removed from the total of four from the round, and any team ranked below them will move up one rank correspondingly. In this way, no team can lose to a "ghost team." The competition administrators reserve the right to employ any other means necessary in pursuing an option to provide a fair and balanced competition.


Any violations of these rules, or any other act or speech not contemplated in these rules that would have an adverse or unfair effect on the results of the competition, may be presented to the competition administrators for review and ruling. The competition administrators include Southwestern faculty, Professor Cristina Knolton, and may additionally include any board member(s) of Southwestern's Negotiation Honors Program.