Feb. 13, 2015- University of Houston Law Center students Rose Badruddin and Brandon Schrecengost, representing the Blakely Advocacy Institute, were named World Champions at the International Commercial Mediation Competition in Paris, France, on Wednesday.
The UH team won the championship sponsored by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) by defeating the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, in the final round. Badruddin and Schrecengost won internships at the ICC International Centre for ADR and the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution as part of the competition prize.
"I'm ecstatic!" Schrecengost said in a story on the ICC website. "To get this far and eventually win is beyond anything we could have hoped for."
"Lawyers are usually taught to be independent but I think one of the biggest lessons of this competition for me is: trust yourself, but also trust your partner,” Badruddin said.
The team was selected for its "good social dynamics" during the school’s series of mediation, negotiation, and arbitration competitions, according to UH coach Kevin Hedges, a practicing attorney who teaches at the Law Center and has been a moderator, mediator, and arbitrator.
"The competition has gotten much more competitive every year. It's invaluable for the students to meet their peers from around the world and interact with them both socially and professionally,” Hedges said in the ICC story. He was assisted in coaching the team by Lucy Tyson and Niki Roberts. All three are Law Center alums.
Featuring some 150 mock mediation sessions based on real commercial disputes, the 2015 competition tested the problem-solving skills of 67 teams from 34 countries, making it the biggest and most diverse yet.
Throughout the competition, professional mediators drew on their own experiences of resolving business disputes to act as mediators and judges, while students played the roles of client and legal counsel. The final session involved a complex dispute over the low yields of a newly acquired vineyard on a South Pacific Island.
The competition is considered one of the world’s most prestigious mediation competitions, and is held in conjunction with ICC’s Mediation Conference, which showcases speakers from multinational companies who provide real-world insight on efficient dispute resolution and, in particular, settlement proceedings.
Jim Lawrence, director of the Blakely Advocacy Institute at the Law Center, was one of the winners in the competition’s first year. According to Lawrence, he was supposed to have been a judge in the final round of the competition. So the UH team’s motto this year was “disqualify Jim,” which they accomplished by making the final round.
The Blakely Advocacy Institute is a national leader in teaching lawyering skills, with an exceptional success rate in law student tournaments nationwide and abroad in negotiation, mock trial, moot court, mediation, and arbitration. Within the Institute is the A.A. White Dispute Resolution Center, which provides training in commercial arbitration, basic mediation, and family mediation.