Students Show Their Skills in Negotiation Competition

BY JOEL POLLAK

Four Best Negotiation winners

Eight 1Ls took home prizes at the 54th annual Williston Competition, run by the Program on Negotiation at HLS. Teammates Mary-Hunter Morris and Sean McDonnell and teammates Evan Simpson and Harry Drozdowski won for best contract overall. Teammates David Kessler and Trevor Cox and teammates Avery Day and G. J. Ligelis won for best negotiators.

The annual contest is held in the spring, and tests the raw talent and skill of the participants, many of whom enter without having yet taken a negotiation course. The competition is a complex role-playing game in which students representing different parties must propose, negotiate, draft and conclude agreements to settle a difficult dispute.

After only a few days of intense work, the results are turned over to a panel of judges, who narrow the teams down before selecting the best. The teams are judged on “value creation, value claiming, and drafting of the contract,” according to Noah Helpern ’08, who ran the competition this year and announced the winners over the summer.

“My group probably spent 20-30 hours in negotiations, not counting prep work,” recalls Kessler. “My partner and I had different negotiating styles that complemented each other quite well, and I think that was one of the keys to our success. The other key was our constant focus on understanding what the group across the table from us really wanted to accomplish.”

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