Friday, January 31, 2014

60th Annual Williston Competition Winners

By Alexis Beveridge’15

Winners of Harvard Law School’s 60th Annual Williston Competition, Harvard’s annual contract negotiation and drafting competition for first-year law students, are:

Best Overall Contract: Sasha Pippenger ’14, Elizabeth Nehrling ’15, Sarah Paige ’15,  and Jennifer Garnett ’15

Best Representation of Airlines: Natalie Rad ’15 and Tara Norris ’15

Best Representation of Flight Attendants: Aaron Blacksberg ’15 and David Salant ’15

The Williston Competition presents participants with a complex business problem and charges them with representing a client in negotiations. The goal is to arrive at an agreement and reduce that agreement to writing. This year’s problem involved a negotiation between a cash-strapped airline and its flight attendants during an economic crisis. About 50 students participated in the competition.

Aaron Blacksberg enjoyed the challenge of “engaging with the intricate problem design and having to take a stand and navigate the strong preferences we were given for the union’s position.” His partner, David Salant agreed, noting, “At times, we and our opposing counsel were all great friends, agreeing wholeheartedly on how to approach certain problems. But at other times, tensions would mount when it became clear our clients had mutually exclusive objectives.”

Although the competition involved hard work, the competitors had fun applying practical skills. “I enjoyed being out of the classroom and figuring out how best to work out a deal without a textbook to guide me. It felt like preparation for what we might do outside of law school,” said Tara Norris.

Elizabeth Nehrling agreed, adding that her “team went out to dinner together, got drinks together, and emerged as friends. It was an enjoyable learning experience to negotiate such a complex and interesting negotiation in a positive environment.”

The Williston Competition is run jointly by the Board of Student Advisers and Harvard Negotiators. The 2013 competition judges were Emma Freeman ’13, Addar Weintraub ’14, Aseem Padukone ’14, Kristi Jobson ’12 (Law Clerk to the Honorable Cynthia Cohen, Massachusetts Appeals Court), and Paola Cecchi Dimeglio (Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Program On Negotiation).