Student author Nneka Morah is a 2017 J.D. candidate at the University of Houston Law Center.
On Friday, October 9, 2015, I had a chance to participate in the Tom Newhouse Mediation Competition held at the University of Houston Law Center. The competition, which featured negotiators and mediators, involved students from the Law Center paired up in teams of two (32 teams in total), acting as attorney and client, whose disputes were mediated by mediators from other law schools around the country. What was even more interesting was the fact that the mediators were in a different competition as well, the Abrams Mediation competition.
Amongst other criteria, we were judged on the presentation of our case, our understanding of the opposition, and our attorney/client relationship. After each round, we had the opportunity to critique ourselves and to get feedback from the judges. Although only three rounds were required, my partner, Zeinab Kachmar, and I completed four rounds that day because one team dropped out of the competition last minute and our help was solicited to fill in.
Although we did not advance to the quarter finals, I had an amazing experience. Being in the mediation clinic at the Law Center this semester has allowed me to take on the role of mediator in a few cases. Participating in this competition reminded me of the importance of my role as a mediator in making the mediation process a positive one from the attorney/client perspective, and it gave me a better and more rounded outlook on the entire process.
***Admissions staff note: please see below for more information on the Tom Newhouse Mediation Competition.
The Tom Newhouse Mediation Competition is held in conjunction with the Jeffry S. Abrams National Mediator Competition. Tom Newhouse Competition Teams are presented with several fact patterns that include a summary of their side’s position and interests, then given a limited time to present their position and work through the dispute with mediators (who are themselves competitors in the Jeffry Abrams National Mediator Competition).
The Competition is open to all UHLC students. Competition Teams consist of two UHLC students, with one serving as attorney and the other as client (alternating each round). The Tom Newhouse Mediation Competition is limited to 30 teams. Competition rounds are judged by members of the Houston legal community who often offer feedback to the teams after their round is over. Teams are scored on the basis of the students’ case analysis, creativity, presentation, expression of the client’s goals, skills of compromise, and professional courtesy.