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Deal or No Deal: Students Compete in Transactional Lawyering Meet

Law students who are considering a transactional career now have an extramural way to hone their deal-making skills. This March, Cornell Law School Associate Professor of Law Charles Whitehead helped organize the nation's first Transactional Lawyering Meet in order to give students a chance to compete against other students in mock transactions.

David Carlson '11, Hrair Simonian '11, Mike McDorman '11, and Josephine Djekovic '10 from Cornell attended the meet at Drexel University, along with students from nine other law schools.

In the competition, teams were assigned to represent the buyer or seller in structuring and negotiating a letter of intent for the sale of a business and were judged by a panel of senior deal lawyers.

"It was interesting to learn about the intricacies of the negotiation process," says Carlson, "how to figure out what the other side knew but wasn't telling us, and then trying to figure out when, how, and to what extent we should let them know that we'd figured out their secrets."

"Through this experience, I learned that the most productive negotiation rounds were those in which the other side was willing to concede certain points and work with us in order to move forward with the transaction" says Djekovic. "A transactional negotiation is not about winning every point for your client; it is about getting a deal done that both your client and the other side want."

"Extramural experiences like these can add a real value to what students learn in class," says Whitehead. "It's one thing to talk about how a transaction was structured in the classroom, but it's quite another to be in the hot seat. The students who participated now have a much clearer understanding of the thought process that a transactional lawyer goes through when structuring a deal."