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."