ABA Negotiation Team Competes at Nationals

Lindsay Thane and Nick VandenBosThe University of Montana School of Law ABA Negotiation Competition Team traveled to Houston last week to participate in the ABA sponsored National Negotiation Competition. The national competition is held each year in conjunction with the ABA Mid-Winter meeting.

Nick VandenBos [2L, Bozeman] and Lindsay Thane [2L, Missoula] faced teams from around the US and Canada in this 2-day event. VandenBos and Thane met the team from St. Mary’s University School of Law [Austin, TX] in the first round, followed by the team from Washington and Lee Law School [Lexington, VA]. The VandenBos/Thane team advanced to the national competition by winning First Place in the Regional Competition in November.

More than 500 law students competed nationwide in 10 regions to win a place at the national competition. The 20 teams appearing in Houston were the regional champions which placed first and second throughout North America. This year’s competition subject was torts. The VandenBos/Thane team represented an amusement park which had downed a drone owned by an agoraphobic operator who had frequently ventured over park property. The parties were meeting to resolve their mutual claims and differences.

Advancing to national competition was a repeat performance for VandenBos who competed at the national level one year ago. “Each time we participate, we gain more experience and knowledge about the negotiation process,” said VandenBos. Thane added, “Negotiation is a skill you can only learn by doing. This competition opens up so much opportunity to learn.”

“The energy and enthusiasm Nick and Lindsay devote to the competition is remarkable,” commented Klaus Sitte, coach of the UM Law School Team. “Lindsay and Nick immediately credited their appearance to a total team effort,” added Sitte. “The entire team [Sam Aarab, 3L, Oslo, Norway; Elizabeth Musick, 3L, Memphis, TN; Kathryn Ore, 1L, Missoula; and Dylan Vinzant, Scappoose, OR] helped Nick and Lindsay advance this far with many hours of practice sessions before nationals.”

Despite the work and effort, VandenBos and Thane are looking forward to next year’s negotiation season. “We are already excited to share the skills we learned next year to continue to improve as a team,” remarked Thane. VandenBos credited his partner for reaching the national competition. “The best part of this competition is working with your partner. You learn a lot about yourself, about teamwork and what it takes to collaborate as a team. Lindsay was on fire during our rounds. It was inspiring,” said VandenBos. Thane echoed a similar view, adding, “Nick is so easy to work with. We can almost complete each other’s sentences.”

Klaus Sitte is an Adjunct Faculty member at UMSL, teaching Negotiations and Alternative Dispute Resolution. Sitte has coached the Law School’s Negotiation Team since 1990, with seven teams now competing at nationals and one at international competition. UM teams have placed second and third nationally.