Recently, I had the privilege of representing Michigan State University College of Law as one of two teams to the 13th annual INADR Mediation Tournament, which was held at the beautiful Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

However, many of you may be wondering: how exactly can mediation be a competition?

Teams are structured as groups of three people: one mediator and an attorney-client pairing.  In any given round, there are two mediators "competing" against each other, as well as two attorney-client pairings facing each other.  The mediators and the attorney-client pairings are all from different schools, with their schools being screened through the use of team numbers.  In the INADR tournament, there are three rounds, a semifinal round, and a final round.

Each round is based on a set of general facts, which the participants of the tournament receive two weeks prior to the competition.  At the competition, teams receive a set of private facts specific to one side of the dispute an hour before the round begins.  During this same hour, the mediators are able to meet in the competition room to discuss how they would like to structure the round, as mediators usually have very different styles.

The rounds last for 90 minutes.  In the rounds, mediators are scored on a number of characteristics such as how they work as a team, listening skills, and other such characteristics.  The attorney client-teams are scored on a similar, but different set of characteristics, such as preparedness, collaboration, and how the attorney works with his or her client.  At the end of the round, all of the participants are given five minutes to "reflect" on their performance in the round.  After this time, and as part of their final score, the participants are asked to given a self-reflection to the judges.  These scores are used to determine individual awards, as well as which teams are to advance to the semifinal and final rounds based on the three prior rounds of performance.

At the 13th annual INADR competition, we had over 50 teams from around the globe, including Germany, India, Russia, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.  In addition to teams from across the globe, law schools from across the United States also sent teams.  

Michigan state had great success at the tournament, with one of our teams being recognized as the 1st place mediation team.  In addition to being named the first place mediation team, the entire tournament was also a tremendous opportunity to meet future attorneys from around the globe and compare mediation styles, law school stories, and plans for the future.