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BU mock mediation team wins fourth straight national title

Courting compromise over litigation, students learn resolution skills

The third time was a charm. But the fourth time is the stuff of dynasty. BU’s Mock Mediation team recently captured its fourth straight title at November’s National Intercollegiate Mediation Tournament at Chicago’s John Marshall Law School.

Sponsored by the American Mock Trial Association, the annual tournament is designed to promote to future lawyers the benefits of mediation as a way to resolve a legal dispute before it ends up in the courtroom.

“The skills the students are learning in mediation are usable in almost every arena,” says Edward Stern (LAW’72), CAS assistant dean for the pre-law program. “A good mediator is an active listener and helps the parties see what’s in their best interests — and what outcome they’re willing to accept in order to not take the risk of going to trial.”

Unlike arbitration, where a judge decides a case’s outcome, the parties in a mediated case hash out their own settlement. “It’s a negotiation led by a third party,” says Stern. “Mediation is a skill that’s not just for lawyers — it comes in handy at any job, or even in a family dispute.” Any student is eligible to be on the mock mediation team.

Stern coaches the BU team with Susan Sloane (CAS’72), a lecturer at the School of Law. Both are attorneys who have worked as mediators and have seen mediation become more popular over the years because it reduces court costs and helps disputants come to a solution with which everyone agrees.

Boston University sent two teams to the competition. The championship team was composed of Victoria Poulton (CAS’07), Jonathan DeFaveri (UNI’06), Stephanie Ehresman (CAS’06), and Aaron Riedel (CAS’07). The other team, with members Allison Ladue (CAS’07), Eric Muller (CAS’08), Maelyn Entwistle (SED’06), and Andrew Nodell (CAS’07), finished in fifth place. This team actually had the second spot after the three preliminary mediation rounds, but could not compete in the championship mediation because of a rule limiting the championship round to one team per college.

Each round consisted of a different fictional mediation scenario, including an estate dispute over a valuable painting and a complaint about ethnic slurs uttered in the workplace.

Poulton had the top championship mediation score. Muller, Entwistle, DeFaveri, and Ehresman, along with Poulton, were recognized for their outstanding performances as client advocates. Entwistle, Ladue, Muller, Poulton, DeFaveri, and Ehresman were named All-American Mediators.
“Each year, we hear from the professional mediators who judge our rounds that the students are developing ever more sophisticated techniques of resolving difficult disputes,” says tournament official Brad Bloch. “These students are the cream of the crop as far as peace studies go.”

The tournament hosted 22 teams from 11 states. Finishing second through fourth were teams from Gonzaga University, the University of Texas at Dallas, and Hamline University.