On Saturday and Sunday, November 11-12, 2017, forty-four students competed in Cornell Law School's eighth Transactional Lawyering Competition-essentially a "moot court" for students who are interested in becoming deal lawyers. The competition is the culmination of the Introduction to Transactional Lawyering class taught by Assistant Clinical Professor of Law Celia Bigoness. It is one of the only intramural competitions of its kind in the country.
"The competition gives the students a unique opportunity to put into practice the concepts that they've been learning in class throughout the semester, ranging from deal structuring to risk allocation to negotiation skills and strategies," says Bigoness. "And even more important, thanks to the extraordinary work of our alumni who participate in the competition, the students receive detailed, real-time feedback on their performance throughout the weekend. Because of this feedback, the progress that the students show over the three rounds of negotiation is amazing."
Divided into twenty-two two-person teams, representing the buyer or seller, participants engaged in mock negotiations over the purchase and sale of a hotel facility in upstate New York. They were judged by a distinguished panel of thirty deal lawyers from around the country, most of them Cornell Law School alumni. Each team also received twenty minutes of direct feedback from the instructor-judges following each round of negotiations. They were judged on the basis of their mark-up of a modified purchase agreement and their ability to negotiate effectively on behalf of their respective clients. Students were required to complete the Introduction to Transactional Lawyering course in order to participate in the competition.
"I tell my students on the first day of class each semester that, if this class had been available to me in law school, it would have been more valuable to my initial months and years in practice than any other law school experience I had," says Bigoness.
Partners on the winning seller team were Kristina Hurley '19 & Nico Weisman '19. Huichuan Xu '18 and Wentian Xie '18 were partners on the winning buyer team.
The week prior to the competition, around one hundred students attended a three-hour "Anatomy of a Private Deal Negotiation." Sponsored by the Clarke Business Law Institute and the Cornell Business Law Society, the mock deal negotiation was presented by five senior lawyers from Kaye Scholer LLP under the leadership of senior partner Joel Greenberg.
The BLI was established in 2007 by a founding gift from Jack G. Clarke LL.B. '52 and his wife, Dorothea S. Clarke. It provides a locus for law faculty with particular expertise in such areas as securities regulation, financial institutions, international economic law, intellectual property, transactional lawyering, business organizations, and ethics and corporate culture.
Transactional Lawyering Competition Alumni Instructor-JudgesJohn Alexander '71, Sayles & Evans
John Altorelli '93, Aequum Law
Joseph Calabrese '81, Latham & Watkins
Thomas Christopher '84, Latham & Watkins
Seth Cohen, Honda of Ithaca
Nathan Cook, Miller Mayer
Sandrine Cousquer-Okasmaa '00, American Express
Shana Elberg '01, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
Robert Feiner '85, Feiner Wolfson
Alyssa Fontaine '06, Tompkins Financial Corporation
David Furman '86, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
Laura Harper Powell '91, Managed Funds Association
Joel Hartstone '70, StoneGate Capital Group
Denise Hauselt '83, formerly, Corning Inc.
Sarah Hewitt '82, Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis
Adele Hogan '85, Deutsche Bank
Andrew Hulsh '85, Pepper Hamilton
Quinlan Kato '00, BNP Paribas
Robert Lee '81, Wells Fargo & Company
Ira Marcus '74, Saiber Attorneys at Law
R. Jake Mincemoyer '01, White & Case
Ronald Prague '85, Synchronoss Technologies Inc.
J. Brett Pritchard '90, Locke Lord
Richard Ross '99, Perkins Coie
Randy Samuels '89, Topcon American Corp.
Stanley Schwartz '69, Orloff, Lowenbach, Stifelman & Siegel
John Schwolsky '85, Willkie Farr & Gallagher
Brandon Smith '05, Tenneco Inc.
Kelann Stirling '04, Latham & Watkins
Al Uluatam '91, State Street Bank