ICC Mediation Competition Attracts Teams From Around the World

Laura Wolfe (left) and Mary Grace White of the New York University School of Law teamed up to win a place in the quartersfinals of the annual ICC mediation competition.
Laura Wolfe (left) and Mary Grace White of the New York University School of Law teamed up to win a place in the quartersfinals of the annual ICC mediation competition.

The biggest-ever ICC Mediation Competition, which took place over six days in Paris earlier this month, brought together 66 university teams and 120 professional mediators from around the world.

In a final closely observed by some 350 spectators, law students demonstrated their mediation advocacy skills in solving a hypothetical but lifelike dispute over the patenting of a newly invented pharmaceutical drug.

Applying ICC’s new Mediation Rules, a team from Monash University in Australia played the part of the requesting party, and a team from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich the respondent, with team members acting as either counsel or client.

The team from Munich emerged victorious, earning internships with the ICC International Centre for ADR and the litigation and arbitration department of the law firm Linklaters.

“The competition is a great opportunity to see how students from other countries and jurisdictions address commercial disputes that businesses face,” said Conor McLaughlin, a member of the winning team along with Harley Steward and Martina Rehman. “Mediation is probably new to a lot of law students. Most focus primarily on litigation. So this competition gives us an opportunity to explore other ways of resolving disputes, and try and find solutions that don’t involve the lengthy, costly, and sometimes destructive, route to litigation.”

Munich was coached by Raffael Probst, of the Munich Center for Dispute Resolution, with help from doctoral candidate David Kaufmann. “My research is mainly on psychology and neuroscience of moral judgment and cooperative behavior, which kind of helps when it comes to understanding how you get the other side to stay at the table and join you in exploring joint interests and options,” said Kaufmann. “It was very interesting to see, for the first time, how things I know in theory actually translate to the practice of mediation and negotiation.”

“Through our annual Mediation Competition, ICC aims to raise awareness of mediation which provides businesses with a procedural framework to settle matters cordially, rapidly and cost-effectively,” said ICC Secretary General Jean-Guy Carrier. “ICC is proud to contribute to the education of the next generation of dispute resolution specialists and to provide a platform for mediators from all around the world. We hope all participants return home with increased knowledge and skills, helping promote high mediation standards around the world.”

“Elated” was how Mary Grace White, one of two students representing New York University School of Law, described herself upon earning a spot in the quarterfinals: “We worked hard on this, and we’re very, very happy to be here. I hope it’s going to create new interest in mediation back home, especially with New York University’s focus on international law.”

Teammate Laura Wolfe added: “All the teams we pled against were amazing: we learned so much from them, and from the judges’ feedback. Everyone has been willing to answer questions and give us constructive tips, and that’s something in our experience that’s unique to this competition. It’s useful, in all facets of law, to learn the mediation skills set, the ability to actively listen to someone and try to see where they’re coming from. It’s whetted our appetite for exploring other mediation opportunities.”

Many universities competing in the ICC Mediation Competition for the first time got through to this year’s final rounds, including teams from Aarhus, Maastricht, and Trinidad and Tobago. With 66 teams competing from universities in 32 countries, helped by 120 professionals volunteering as mediators and judges, this year’s event has attracted more than 500 participants.

Read more on ICC’s website.

Staff contact: Josefa Sicard-Mirabal

Staff Contact:   Nancy Thevenin

General Counsel
Tel: 212.703.5047

Nancy Thevenin supports the USCIB Arbitration Committee and coordinates the work of the U.S. Nominations Committee. She works closely with USCIB’s Business Development team in ensuring a more comprehensive policy, legal and arbitration membership outreach to both law firms and corporations. Thevenin previously served as deputy director of the ICC Court of Arbitration’s North American marketing office. During her tenure, the group helped launch the ICC International Mediation Competition and developed USCIB Young Arbitrators Forum (YAF), with Thevenin drafting the proposal for the ICC to make YAF a global organization. Nancy then joined Baker & McKenzie as a special counsel in and global coordinator of their International Arbitration Practice Group. She left Baker in 2014 to start her own practice as arbitrator and mediator and continues to teach the spring semester international commercial arbitration course at St. John’s Law School.
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