Mediation Team Finishes Third and Fourth

2015 Mediation TeamThe University of Montana School of Law sent two teams to the Southeast Regional Representation in Mediation Competition in Gainesville, Florida on February 21 and 22. The competition was hosted by the University of Florida Levin College of Law. Ben Shumate [3L, Portales, NM] teamed with Meghan Benson [3L Auburn, WA ] and Logan Grover [3L, Boulder, CO] teamed with Madison Mattioli [3L, Helena, MT], finishing in third and fourth place respectively. The two Montana teams faced competition from Emory University Law School, the University of Florida and George Mason Law School.

Mediation competition is sponsored by the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution to encourage non-litigation methods of resolving conflict. The Montana teams rotated serving as clients and attorneys in 2 two-hour-long sessions involving different factual scenarios. In the first round, the dispute concerned two siblings who could not agree on how to divide the small estate of a recently deceased parent. In the second round, the UM teams were caught in a dispute between an art collector donor and a museum. The donor wanted to regain a specific piece of artwork which held special significance to his deceased son.

Both Teams were enthusiastic about the competition and their performance. “I am so appreciative to UMSL for sending us to this competition. We prepared well and represented the School admirably. The Law School needs to continue cultivating ADR concepts through these kinds of competitions.” said Mattioli. Team partner Grover echoed similar sentiment, adding, “I couldn’t imagine a more satisfying way to spend significant time in my third year at law school. The skills we practiced and used are so important in doing what lawyers do.”

Benson remarked, “This competition was a wonderful experience, allowing us to participate from a perspective we, as law students, usually don’t get to see. More people should be able to understand the mediation process and the benefits offered to participants.” Teammate Shumate agreed, adding, “This is the best, most practical learn-by-doing I’ve had in law school. These are the same skills we’re learning and using in the Mediation Clinic.”

The Teams were coached this year by Klaus Sitte, Adjunct Faculty member at the University of Montana School of Law. Sitte teaches Negotiations and Alternative Dispute Resolution, along with supervising the Mediation Clinic. All four team members were a part of the ADR course.

Sitte has coached the Negotiation Team since 1990 with this being his first year in Mediation Representation Competition. “Like all of our law school competition experiences, our teams generally do rather well wherever we compete. The Mediation Team earned their results through many hours of hard work. They kept their enthusiasm and energy going, despite the hard work, and it paid off,” said Sitte.

Photo (Left to Right): Logan Grover, Madison Mattioli, Ben Shumate, Meghan Benson