Law students practice 'The Art of the Argument' at NFL Contract Negotiation Competition

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Photos courtesy of Wayne Law Participants 

When Samer Hamade and Elijah Simkins developed the Wayne Law NFL Contract Negotiation Competition, their focus was on offering an opportunity for Wayne State University Law School students to practice their negotiation skills within the context of sports law. But the competition has grown beyond that. The competition is a growing community of students, alumni, and community members who look forward to coming together each fall for a Saturday to engage in negotiating an NFL contract. 

The 2022 NFL Contract Negotiation Competition was held on Saturday, November 19, and was chaired by Andrew Vailliencourt and Fatima Dakroub, the duo that won the competition in 2020 and 2021. Hunter DeSantis and Alex Papa won the event this year and will represent Wayne Law at the national competition hosted by Tulane Law School in Winter 2023. 

Zachary Revoldt and Joe Candela placed second. Assistant Professor Rebecca Robichaud supervises the competition. Among the judges were alumni Edwin Piner and Monique Eubanks who won the coemption in 2019. Deborah Schneider and Jaime Miettinen, a sports and entertainment lawyer, returned to judge — both having been part of the competition since its inaugural year. Charles Hayden also returned to judge, alongside Professor Eric Zacks and Professor Rick Karcher.

The competition has grown from eight teams in the first year to fourteen student teams that negotiated the contract for standout quarterback Lamar Jackson this fall. Jackson will soon negotiate an agreement with the Baltimore Ravens for the 2023 season. This allows students to compare their own negotiations with the actual negotiations.

Judge Edwin Piner said that for him, he was looking for “the art of the argument” from competitors including how they use comparisons to other high-paid QB’s like Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson.

“The NFL Contract Negotiation Competition is a great opportunity for Wayne Law students to gain negotiation experience while connecting sports and the law,” says Vailliencourt. 

Open to all law students, it is a non-credit opportunity that allows 1L s to compete against 2L and 3L students. Students sign up and prepare with the problem and materials provided by the Sports and Entertainment Law Society. It is one of the few opportunities open to 1L students to participate in skill building outside of the classroom.

The prize this year, a $100 gift card for each member of the winning team to the WSU bookstore was sponsored by the Sportslaw podcast. Professor Deb Schneider, who teaches Sports Law and Sports and Inequality at Wayne Law, co-hosts the podcast.


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