The Canadian National Negotiation Competition finalists, Osgoode Hall (right) and Robson Hall (left) with their coaches and judges.

Law students come together at the University of Saskatchewan for national negotiation competition

Strong performance earns College of Law team fourth place, as Osgoode Hall claim top spot.

Karen Mann and Adam Voorberg edged out fellow finalists Kaitlin Buchko and Tanci Carvalho of the University of Manitoba’s Robson Hall law school to win the 2018 Canadian National Negotiation Competition (CNNC), hosted by the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) College of Law and sponsored by Dentons LLP and Cameco.

Excited by their win, the team from York University’s law school appreciated the chance to practice skills at the heart of lawyering, and to learn from fellow law students.

“Negotiation is an important part of the ever-growing dispute resolution practice within law,” said Voorberg. “We saw this competition as an ability to practice some of those skills, as we prepare for practice in the future.”

“One of the biggest [takeaways] was the chance to Interact with students from different law schools, and we can definitely say, even just in the three rounds, how much we adapted from things we learned from the teams we were up against,” said Mann.

As winners of the national competition, Mann and Voorberg claim a place in the International Negotiation Competition taking place this summer in Cardiff, Wales.

“It’s a huge honour to represent Canada, and we’re really looking forward to it,” said Voorberg.

The two U of S teams, from left: Antonela Cicko, Christina Judge, Jacey Safnuk, and Kaylee Mitchell.

The two teams representing the U of S also achieved highly in the competition.

College of Law students Jacey Safnuk and Christina Judge, who won the college final in October 2017, placed fourth overall. The team also earned an honourable mention for a strong performance in planning and self-analysis.

Fellow competitors Kaylee Mitchell and Antonela Cicko were also awarded honourable mention, for teamwork and relationship-building. 

Now in its second year, CNNC brings together law students from schools across Canada to practice and improve their negotiation skills. The competition simulates legal negotiations in which teams of two law students, acting as lawyers, negotiate a series of legal problems.

A total of 14 teams competed in CNNC from nine different law schools, which also included the University of Calgary, the University of New Brunswick, Western University, the University of Alberta, the University of Ottawa, and McGill University. 

All group photo of the teams and their coaches.

Approximately 45 practicing lawyers and experienced negotiators gave their time as judges for the competition, 41 of whom are College of Law alumni. Seven of the alumni formerly competed with the college’s dispute resolution moot team.

The judges were impressed by the skill level of the competitors.

“As a U of S College of Law alumnus, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to participate as a judge in the competition," said Kevin Wilson, a partner with MLT Aikins LLP in Saskatoon. "The students did an outstanding job, and competitions like this clearly provide invaluable experience to law students that greatly enrich their law school experience.”

When they were not competing, the students were able to share time and learning opportunities together, including a trip to the city’s Remai Modern art gallery, and a masterclass on the topic of negotiation from an Indigenous perspective.

For competition organizer Michaela Keet, a professor at the College of Law, the experience has been a rewarding one.

“We are thrilled to see the competition continue to grow, with more teams competing this year,” she said. “Students recognize negotiation as a core skill area in today’s legal world, one that will serve them well as practicing lawyers, and they appreciate the opportunities presented by competitions such as this.”

Full list of CNNC awards:

First place team: Adam Voorberg and Karen Mann, Osgoode Hall, York University

Second place team:  Kaitlin Buchko and Tanci Carvalho, Robson Hall, University of Manitoba.

Third place team: Lucas Kokat and Brendan Sheehan, University of Ottawa.

Fourth place team: Jacey Safnuk and Christina Judge, University of Saskatchewan. 

Award for teamwork and relationship-building:  Erin Evans and Alex Favreau, Robson Hall, University of Manitoba.

Honorable mention for teamwork and relationship-building: Kaylee Mitchell and Antonela Cicko, University of Saskatchewan.

Award for planning and self-analysis: Michael Luba and Aleksander Godlewski, McGill University.

Honorable mention for planning and self-anaysis: Christina Judge and Jacey Safnuk, University of Saskatchewan; Lucas Kokat and Brendan Sheehan, University of Ottawa.