The negotiation team, from left: Professor Sam Jackson '77, Stephanie Downey 2L, Nick Hanna 3L, Josephine Kim 3L and Beth Kapopoulos 3L.
Negotiating a good deal for a client isn’t easy. And the terrain shifts in each case, based not only on the facts but also on factors such as the personality and temperament of the opposing counsel.
Those were among the takeaways for UNC School of Law third-year students Josephine Kim and Nick Hanna, who used their deal-making skills to place first in the American Bar Association Southeast Negotiation Competition this fall.
The tournament was at the University of Georgia School of Law, and Hanna and Kim represented Carolina Law’s Holderness 3L National Negotiation Team. The competition tested their skills in teamwork and negotiation planning and ethics, flexibility in adapting strategies and other factors considered by the judges.
“Not all our opponents treated us the same or approached the problems as we did, and it was a fun challenge navigating that,” Hanna says.
“Smooth talking and a silver tongue may work on some but anger others,” Hanna says. “Being firm with some may just upset them and have them refuse to work with you. Appealing to others’ empathy may get you farther along than strictly dealing with the facts.”
The competition topic was business law. Each round involved a U.S.-based cosmetics business.
“Since the fact patterns put our clients at a disadvantage, we brainstormed creative ideas that could give us leverage in the negotiations,” Kim says. “We also made sure our monetary deals and creative solutions were supported by justifications.”
“I learned that an advantageous deal for your client does not necessarily correspond to a successful negotiation,” she notes. “It’s important to realize your opposing counsel is also just trying to do their job.”
Carolina Law professor Sam Jackson ’77, the team’s faculty adviser, was impressed by their performance.
“Josephine and Nick proved well-prepared, articulate and unflappable in their negotiations,” Jackson says.
Twenty teams from eight schools competed. UNC students Beth Kapopoulos 3L and Stephanie Downey 2L also competed and finished above the top third of all teams.
Kim and Hanna will compete for the national championship at the finals in Chicago in February.
-November 17, 2016