Two teams from the Institute of Professional Legal Studies took part in the International Law School Mediation Tournament, sponsored by The International Academy of Dispute Resolution, hosted by BPP, London, from Wednesday 23rd March to Saturday 26th March 2011.
Well done to Nicholas Nolan, Simon Kelly, Suzanne Keenan, Julia Ellison, Laura Clarke and Severina Kelly on competing in the Internation Law School Mediation Tournament. The trainees won a number of prizes listed below.
The 10th Annual International Law School Mediation Tournament was held from the 24th to 27th March at the BPP Law School in London. Over 30 teams participated in the event. The Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queen’s University (IPLS) entered this prestigious event for the first time. Having finished in 2nd place overall in the UK competition, trainee solicitors Simon Kelly, Nick Nolan and Suzanne Keenan were keen to develop their skills at International level, and, despite being relative novices, Laura Clarke, Severina Kelley and I were delighted to be chosen from the Bar class at the IPLS to form another team.
In the weeks leading up to the event, the Director of the IPLS Anne Fenton, and solicitor David Gaston provided some invaluable coaching. It became clear very quickly that the skills we had developed at the IPLS in other areas were readily transferable to mediation. Indeed, the format of the competition meant that not only were our skills as mediators on display but also how we performed as advocates and in the role of client. Accordingly, we knew even before the competition began that we would be putting to good use our training in case analysis, client care, advocacy and negotiation.
On the first day of the event we were introduced to Case Ellis, President of the International Academy of Dispute Resolution, the organisation running the competition. During the coming days, he and other leading proponents of mediation, including founders of the organisation Richard Calkins and Fred Lane, shared their experiences of mediating with us. Having each had long and successful careers as litigators in the US, they are now passionate about mediation as a process that values conciliation over confrontation, and that empowers the parties to reach an agreed resolution rather than having an outcome imposed upon them in Court. We also spent time meeting the other teams who were from as far afield as the US, Canada, Australia, India and Germany.
Having listened to and learnt from the professionals, on the third day the competition began. There were three rounds in the tournament so in each round one team member acted as mediator while the other two acted as advocate and client. Each team member had to perform each role once. The mediator role was perhaps the most challenging as the mediator was required to give an opening address intended to explain the process of mediation and settle the parties before taking control of the mediation. This entailed deciding when to enter conference or caucus and directing the process towards a resolution. Meanwhile the advocate/client team were taking part in another mediation working closely together to reach a resolution that the client was happy with.
The standard of the competitors was very high and we were given no indication of how we were performing until the awards were presented. Many teams, particularly those from the US, regularly participate in mediation tournaments. Therefore we were delighted to learn that Simon, Nick and Suzanne were placed 2nd in the advocate/client team division and 10th place in the mediator team division while Laura, Severina and I were 7th in the mediator team division and 9th in the advocate/client team division. There were also prizes for outstanding individuals in each category. In the individual advocate/client division Laura and I were placed 6th and Nick and Suzanne were 8th.
Overall it was a very successful outing for the IPLS and the Director’s suitcase was significantly heavier on the way home carrying all our trophies. Even more importantly, we’d like to think our success has helped put Northern Ireland on the International Mediation map!
Julie Ellison, Bar Trainee