Harvard Law Students Win Negotiation Competition in Germany

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US Ambassador to Germany, John Kornblum, presenting the trophy to, from left Frederick Bourdais, Grace Chien and Kimathi Kuenyehia.

This past weekend, three Harvard Law School students took home the first place trophy from The Negotiation Challenge in Leipzig, Germany. A team comprised of Kimathi Kuenyehia ’07, Frederic Bourdais ’07, and Grace Chien ’08 won the competition.

The Harvard team defeated four teams including, a team from Cambridge University and the College of Law in the United Kingdom to win the competition. The five man jury for the final round was chaired by John C. Kornblum, a former US Ambassador to Germany and now Chairman of the Investment boutique, Lazard.

The Negotiation Challenge, a competition jointly organized by Harvard Law School and the Leipzig Graduate School of Management, brought together competitors from nine countries and five continents for four rounds of negotiation to provide them a competitive forum to practice and develop their negotiation and dispute resolution skills. Robert Bordone, Clinical Professor and director of the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program, was one of the event organizers.

“Because our classes on negotiation at HLS provided us with an unmatched range of skills, we felt prepared to confront our opponents in the competition. Thus, we used a different strategy for every round and in the final round when our opponents anchored very high we refused to make a counter-offer until they capitulated” said Kimathi Kuenyehia who led the negotiation in the final round of the competition against the team from ESCP-EAP (Berlin, Paris, Madrid).

“One very important lesson we learned throughout the competition, according to the winning team, “was how to utilize our team’s diversity to our advantage. Because of our diverse experiences and viewpoints, we were able to take a truly global approach to negotiating with our opponents.” Kimathi is from Africa, Grace is Asian-American, and Frederick is European.

In a congratulatory message to the team, Professor Robert Bordone stated that “in an ever more global market, it’s essential that our students graduate with the know-how and skill-set to negotiate effectively across contexts, cultures, and national boundaries. The students’ victory in Germany this past weekend in competition with teams from Europe, North America, and India is a testimony to the robustness of this approach. I’m very pleased for our students and proud of their great accomplishment.”

The Negotiation Challenge is the first international negotiation competition in Europe, and one of only a few international negotiation competitions in the world.

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