Arbitration Competition team makes final four in regionals, gains valuable experience

The students representing William Mitchell at the recent ABA Regional Arbitration Competition in Chicago made a strong showing while coming away with an unforgettable experience.

The Mitchell team of Alexandra Habicht, Blake Bauer, Kem Tae Lynch, and Ronald Schultz narrowly lost in the regional semi-finals to Louisville. Eighteen law schools competed in the regionals.

The competition simulates an arbitration hearing, with students preparing and presenting an arbitration case, including opening statements, witness examinations, exhibit introductions, evidentiary presentations, and summations. They had been working on the case throughout the fall semester.

“At the very beginning of the semester the students struggled with composing solid cross-examination questions, and creating themes for their opening statements,” said Marylee Abrams, Mitchell adjunct professor and lead coach for the team. “By the end of the semester they were acting and talking like accomplished lawyers.”

This was the second time competing for Habicht, who found this competition just as intense and challenging as the first.

“I think what makes it so unique is the interplay between the teams and the panel of judges,” she said. “Each round of competition can be completely different from the next depending on the style of team or panel of judges you are with, and a large part of being able to do well is the ability to be flexible. All in all, you feel such an adrenaline rush while competing, even while being a witness, and it is amazing how quickly the rounds fly by.”

Abrams called the competition a “great example of practical wisdom in action;” Habicht knows the experience will pay off in the future.

“Even if you don’t think you will want to litigate, arbitration is a very common occurrence in any area of the law and I really recommend any student taking it to polish those professional skills,” she said. “The real-life practice of conducting a hearing start to finish, especially with an aggressive opponent, is the best learning opportunity I have received while at Mitchell.”