Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

News Release

March 26, 2012
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.

Southwestern's First and Second Place Teams at the Lewis and Clark National Environmental Negotiation Competition
(from left) Jonathan Evans, Michael Laufer, Ilyssa Adler and Phillip Hall

"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."

When asked why both teams were able to advance to the finals, Professor Knolton commented that "both teams could think quickly on their feet and come up with creative ways to get the opposing attorneys to see their point of view." She added, "both teams knew exactly what their client wanted and how to get their opponent to give it to them."

The competition judges included Hon. Edward Leavy, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals; Hon. Erika Hadlock, Oregon State Court of Appeals; and Hon. Lynn Nakamoto, Oregon State Court of Appeals. All judges were amazed at the quality of the students and commented on both teams' ability to represent their client's interests effectively.

"The Knoltons' coaching was instrumental to our strong showing," Hall said. "They had us focused and ready for anything the other side could throw our way. Second, Lewis and Clark did a great job with this competition. It ran smoothly and we really enjoyed our time there."

The teams negotiated four problems. In the first problem, Southwestern teams represented the fictional Fugi Islands in a negotiation to secure collaborative legislation requiring the sharing of environmental technologies among a coalition of islands. In the second problem, the teams represented the Fugi Islands in a negotiation to secure a commitment from a non-profit environmental agency to implement certain innovative technologies on the island. In the third problem, the teams negotiated funding for environmental technologies from a secondary funding source. Finally, the teams faced off against each other in a negotiation between the Fugi islands and an environmental interest group trying to change Fugi's national environmental plan.

"The teams' accomplishments at the competition was a result of their hard work in mastering the substantive aspects of the problems," said coach Derek Knolton. He noted that "The students became masters of environmental laws and policies, as well as experts on the intricacies of new and upcoming environmental technologies."