By Laura Billiter, 3L November 19, 2019
Michigan Law hosted its fourth annual Transactional Law Competition on November 8, where student teams demonstrated their transactional drafting and negotiating skills in a half-day live negotiation.
Twenty pairs of student teams, each representing either the fictional buyer or seller in a mock acquisition, had worked since September to draft a scaled-down merger agreement on behalf of their client, as well as mark up an opposing team's draft. The six weeks of written work culminated in the live negotiations in November, during which students negotiated with the team whose draft they had received for mark-ups, and vice versa.
"For me, it was a great opportunity to learn drafting and negotiating skills," said Patrick Logan, 2L. "The only contract experience I had previously was my Contracts class in my first year, so it was useful to see what the actual document looked like."
Winning teams were announced at a reception in Jeffries Lounge following the competition. Winners included:
Practicing and retired corporate attorneys, many of whom were Michigan Law alumni, served as judges for the competition. Students were judged on the quality of their written work as well as on their skills during the live negotiations.
Bryant M. Frank, '82, returned for a third year to judge the competition. "It's a lot of fun and it keeps us young," said Frank, who currently practices as secretary and senior counsel for Soave Enterprises in Detroit. "This is a way to give back."
The competition began as an opportunity for students to learn about transactional practice in an environment in which many Law School activities are litigation focused, according to Clinical Professor Ted Becker, who co-founded the competition in 2015 with former Michigan Law Professor Michael Bloom.
Until last year, the national organization LawMeets hosted a transactional competition in which law schools from across the country sponsored students to compete on behalf of their school. While Michigan Law's competition used to serve as a conduit to send a Michigan team to LawMeets, according to Becker, its directives are broader.
"Here, our goal is more pedagogical," he said. "We open the competition to everyone—anybody who is a student here at the Law School can participate, whether they have experience or not. And one of the goals is to provide an opportunity for students who have never had transactional experience before to see what that looks like."
For Bailey Tulloch, 1L, the competition was exactly that. "Everyone [in law school] kept tossing out transactional and litigation terms, and I wanted to know what it all meant," she said. "This was a good way, especially before On-Campus Interviewing (OCI), to explore transactional work and see if I was interested in it."
Students without transactional experience or those looking to refresh their skills had the opportunity to attend an "M&A 101" training session ahead of the competition, in which Becker provided a broad overview of the types of issues and considerations that arise in a typical acquisition. This year also included a new "Negotiation 101" session, based on feedback from students. Student assistants Austin Bowman, 3L, and Timothy Leake, 2L, who were among the winners of last year's competition, helped to organize the sessions and this year's event.
"I found the M&A session really helpful," said Kate Swain, 3L. "Sometimes it's hard to get transactional experience in law school because it's so litigation-driven. This was a good, low-stakes way to get experience. I would definitely recommend it to students who aren't sure about whether they're interested in transactional work."
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