Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

News Release

March 25, 2011
Three-Peat: BLSA Negotiation Team Wins National Convention Competition

At the 43rd Annual National Black Law Students Association Convention held in Houston, Texas, Southwestern's BLSA chapter dominated once again. The team of second-year day students Gerri Marshall and Ryan Bonner won First Place in the Negotiation Competition, receiving the 2011 NBLSA International Negotiations Competition Pratima Narayan Award. This is the third consecutive year that Southwestern's BLSA chapter has won this competition.

2011 NBLSA International Negotiations Competition Pratima Narayan Award Winners
(from left) Ryan Bonner, Courtney Collins and Gerri Marshall

Marshall attributed the team's success to the dedication of their coaches, Courtney Collins (third-year day) and Brent Tilley (fourth-year evening). Collins won the negotiation competition in 2010 and Tilley won in 2009.

"Brent and Courtney gave up a lot of their time to practice with Ryan and me," Marshall explained. "We could not have won the competition without the sacrifices that they made for us. The five weeks of preparation consisted of Ryan and I researching the problems and engaging in sparring sessions with Courtney and Brent, where they helped us hone our technique."

Sixteen teams participated in the competition. In the final round, Southwestern's team defeated students from Michigan State University College of Law. In the semi-final round, Southwestern defeated a team from New York Law School. Bonner and Marshall argued three problems, conducting four negotiations throughout the competition.

Each problem dealt with an international issue. The first concerned an airline partnership agreement between Skymiles (Delta Airlines and Air France) and Emirates Airlines. The second problem was a negotiation between the Malawi Government and the African Development Bank (ADB). In this problem, the government wanted to extend its infrastructure by establishing a telecom system. Marshall found this one most challenging because it required the creation of a corporation. The third problem consisted of the Israeli-Palestine issue. Israel, the U.S. and the Fatah government met to discuss the issues within the region.

"It was an honor to win the competition especially because Ryan and I knew that we had huge shoes to fill (with Southwestern winning the competition the previous two years)," Marshall said. "Our strategy was to go into the competition, not only as a team, but really as one thinking person. We worked on putting up a united front every time we negotiated, coupled with all of the research that we both did, and it paid off...The judges were very impressed with our presence, our team work, and how well researched we were with regard to all of the problems."