Texas Tech University
Texas Tech Law Students Negotiate Challenges
To Become World’s Best Arbitrators
Helping to negotiate a business deal among four parties from different nations may seem a daunting task for some – but not for Texas Tech University law students Joy Gibbs and Mandy Gundlach.
The duo, coached by Law School Associate Deans Brian Shannon and Nancy Soonpaa, negotiated their way through several hypothetical legal cases, such as this international business deal, to win the world championship at the 2005 International Negotiation Competition in July in Dublin, Ireland.
Gibbs and Gundlach faced off against 15 teams, including competitors from Ireland, Canada, England, Denmark, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore, Puerto Rico, South Korea and Scotland.
The competition pitted two or more teams against each other to solve hypothetical legal problems. Each team had access to a common set of facts and confidential information in each case. The teams’ performance was gauged on how well their proposed solution would satisfy their clients and their opponents’ clients.
Soonpaa says solving cases through negotiation and arbitration is becoming more popular – 90 percent of lawsuits are settled in this manner before they ever get to trial.
Soonpaa says the American Bar Association started negotiation competitions in the late 1980’s and Texas Tech has had considerable success in those competitions. Texas Tech has won the National Negotiation Competition twice and has had numerous top-five finishes. Gibbs and Gundlach took second-place honors out of 24 teams in this year’s national competition.
Gundlach says a big part of the team’s success was her friendship with Gibbs. The two met at orientation at the Law School and are close friends. Gundlach says the pair would frequently finish each other’s sentences during the competition.
“All that comes from spending a lot of time together,” Gundlach says. “Friendship, combined with experience, are the two things that made a difference.”
Gibbs says she and Gundlach complement each other well.
“I tend to be very focused and simply want to get to the point,” she says. “Mandy does an excellent job keeping both parties on track and moving the negotiation forward. I also think because Mandy and I know each other very well we don't have to guess at what the other one is thinking.”
Texas Tech Law School Dean Walter Huffman says competitions like the International Negotiation Competition and those sponsored by the American Bar Association help students develop skills that will serve them in practicing law.
“Mandy, Joy, and their faculty coaches have worked very hard this year,” Huffman says. “We’re absolutely thrilled that they had the opportunity to represent both Texas Tech and the United States at this prestigious international competition – and win!”