Thirty-two students competed Friday, Nov. 7, in the first-ever transactional law competition at Wayne State University Law School.
Negotiations (seller’s counsel) – First place, Whitney Baubie and Emily Decker, both second-year students from Grosse Pointe, and second place, Candice Moore of Livonia and Lauren Rennert of Shelby Township, both third-year students.
Drafting (seller’s counsel) – First place, Moore and Rennert, and second place, Gino Roncelli, of Detroit, third-year student, and Helen Zaharopoulos of Macomb Township, second-year student.
Negotiations (buyer’s counsel) – First place, Arius Webb of Harper Woods, third-year student, and Alex Bowman of Detroit, second-year student, and second place, Robert Clemente of West Bloomfield and Ian Hickman of Royal Oak, both second-year students.
Drafting (buyer’s counsel) – First place, Clemente and Hickman, and second place, James Brady of Royal Oak, second-year student, and Abathar Alkudari of Dearborn, third-year student.
The live-round competition is part of a one-credit course created and supervised by Assistant Professor Eric Zacks of Huntington Woods. The competition was coordinated by third-year student and competition chair Justin Hanna of West Bloomfield. Hanna was part of last year’s transactional law team, which qualified for the national LawMeet finals after winning the northeast regional competition.
The first-place winners from Wayne Law’s negotiation rounds will represent the law school at the regional LawMeet in the spring. The first-place winners for drafting will help the negotiation teams prepare for the regional competitions, including assisting with the drafting that will be required for the regional competitions and conducting practice negotiation rounds. Those top team members will enroll in the winter semester of the transactional law team course at Wayne Law.
At both the in-school and regional competitions, professional transactional experts judge which two-member teams are most adept.
“Each team represented the buyer or seller involved in a stock purchase transaction,” Zacks said. “Although the buyer and seller had already signed a purchase agreement, some intellectual property litigation, as well as an FDA investigation, arose that threatened the closing of the transaction. The teams were instructed to draft an amendment to the purchase agreement to allow the parties to overcome these obstacles. Each team also had to revise an opposing team’s draft. In the course of drafting and revising, the teams participated in mock conference calls with their respective clients.”
After weeks of drafting and revising, the day of the live competition brought the teams together for two rounds of live negotiations with teams on the other side. The judges – which included 14 local transactional attorneys – offered feedback after each round. The attorneys and students gathered at a local restaurant for a reception after the competition.
“The judges were extremely impressed with the students’ level of preparedness, professionalism and collegiality,” Zacks said.
Attorney David Joswick, Wayne Law class of 1969, of Miller Canfield Paddock and Stone PLC served as a competition judge.
“The negotiators were well prepared and made excellent presentations, and, most importantly, the students exhibited a level of commitment and enthusiasm not often found in a regular classroom setting,” Joswick said. “This kind of exposure so close to actual practice situations is what students need. And it’s good to see that it’s also what they want, particularly when done well.”
Attorney Kenneth Phillips, Wayne Law class of 1999, of Gentherm also was one of the judges.
“The students were very well prepared,” he said. “They argued their positions with conviction, and it was interesting to see them work hard to reach creative compromises. This competition is a great alternative to moot court for students interested in transactional law. I thoroughly enjoyed participating as a judge and especially enjoyed the chance to interact with the students and provide feedback at the conclusion of the individual competitions.”
Zacks said Wayne Law’s transactional law competition courses are designed to permit students to experience transactional law in a real-world setting and to begin to develop the skills necessary to represent clients well. The courses operate under the umbrella of Wayne Law’s Program for Entrepreneurship and Business Law directed by Assistant (Clinical) Professor Eric Williams of Detroit.
Attorneys serving as judges were:
• Christopher Attar, Wayne Law class of 2014, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
• Brian Balow, Dickinson Wright PLLC
• Christopher Banerian, Wayne Law class of 2014, Paulsen Law Firm
• Kenton Bednarz, Wayne Law class of 2008, Guardian Industries
• Weiling Chou, Wayne Law class of 2014, Berry Moorman PC
• David Joswick, Wayne Law class of 1969, Miller Canfield Paddock and Stone PLC
• John Kanan, Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP
• Steven Migliore, Wayne Law class of 2008, Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP
• Jeffrey Paulsen, Paulsen Law Firm PLLC
• Kenneth Phillips, Wayne Law class of 1999, Gentherm
• Joseph Sgroi, Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP
• Andrew Smith, Valeo, Detroit Thermal Systems LLC
• Peter Sugar, Wayne Law class of 1970, Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss
• Assistant (Clinical) Professor Eric Williams, Wayne Law
• Timothy Wittebort, Wayne Law class of 1988, Howard & Howard
• Assistant Professor Eric Zacks, Wayne Law