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Now in Its Eighth Year, Transactional Lawyering Competition Generates Strong Interest
a group of students holding plaques

From left: Professor Celia Bigoness, the winning buyer team of Huichuan Xu ’18 and Wentian Xie ’18, the winning seller team of Kristina Hurley ’19 and Nico Weisman ’19, and Dean Eduardo Peñalver.

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-Judges

  • John 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

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