Shreya has also participated in RGNUL Sports and Media Law ADR Tournament which was conducted by PACT and won the runners up position as well as the best team in the preliminary rounds. She has taken part in ODR Negotiation Tournament as well.
Her thoughts are –
Q1. What were the specific challenges that you faced during your preparation and how were they different from the ones at the actual negotiation round?
In my opinion, the only thing that one can actually prepare during preparation is their opening statement, since the round mostly depends on the confidential information and the approach of the other team. Sometimes complex propositions dealing with complex laws can be a bit challenging. Therefore, having background information about the proposition is important. Again, deciding about the flow of the session is important and a bit challenging because every problem requires a different structure. But once you enter a round the process is quite smooth if you know how to coordinate well with your partner and know what exactly you want to achieve from the session. Having a mediation plan handy can help you pass the barrier of unexpected situations.
Q2. Choosing your partner is indeed an important decision. How did you start and how did you form a team dynamic and use the synergy to your benefit?
Choosing a partner/team is indeed the most important decision of any competition. According to me, a team is more important than a competition, because if you have a good team, you can excel in any competition and at the same time, a bad choice of partner can be challenging even if you are well-prepped. In negotiation specifically, it is imperative to have a good rapport with your partner and you should have the understanding to pass on the roles and coordinate it amongst yourself. In my experience, I always made sure that we decided some code words before the actual round, which became more vital during online rounds.
Q3. Each team has their own way of approaching a negotiation. Please tell us something about your approach. Do you think it gives you an edge over other teams?
We always tried to link the problem to real-life situations and used to prepare everything from both the sides to better understand the proposition. In my opinion, it is important to approach the problem with an unbiased judgement and accordingly look for solutions which can be beneficial for both the parties. At the same time, you should have some buffer innovative ideas which will set you apart from the rest of the teams. Negotiation and mediation competitions are all about being innovative and new in your approach, which at the same time should also be realistic. Additionally, one should try to guess what the confidential information might be so that they are well-prepped for any situation.
Q4. How would you describe your experience in the Lex Knot ADR competition?
Lex Knot ADR, Hyderabad was my first mediation competition in college, and indeed something which has a lot of good memories attached to it. We had interesting propositions which dealt with different aspects of law, such as insolvency, family law, and fraud matters. Even though mediation does not require you to use law, but in my opinion having some background knowledge about the law will always be in your favour. Our local tour to Hyderabad along with winning the competition acted as a cherry on the cake.
Q5. You’ve won the title of best team twice, what do you think got you over the edge of other teams?
In my opinion, it is the rapport and the understanding that we have in the team that helped us to have an edge over the other teams. At the same time, it is important to portray your role clearly while representing as a client in a mediation competition. I feel that one should clearly divide the roles between the counsel and the client so that it is clearly recognised during your round. Additionally, it is important to observe the body language of the other team, because it will give a lot of insight into their next move/strategy. Lastly, one should be accommodative at times if you think that the other team is trying to bring something useful to the table.
Q6. Do you plan to pursue a career in the field of negotiation/mediation? How do you think it is perceived in the professional space?
To be honest, I am trying to explore right now and would like to see what matches my interests eventually. Mediation is the upcoming trend for sure because of the advantages it has over other modes of dispute resolution. Even in the professional space, the general trend is changing and people prefer to include specific clauses in their contracts stating that they would go for mediation or negotiation in case a dispute arises, which is a testament to the fact that ADR is gaining recognition in today’s era.
Q7. What according to you is the best way of strategically utilizing the mediator?
Making use of a mediator is very important since it is marked separately and at the same time can help you score more in categories like “willingness to work cooperatively”. Firstly, one should acknowledge the mediator in their opening statements for their presence and assistance. Secondly, one can ask the mediator to identify the common interests and accordingly lay down the agenda for the session. Thirdly, you can ask the mediator to summarise the discussion or strategically ask him to explain something which you couldn’t understand, and lastly, you can discuss your solutions with the mediator in a caucus and take his opinion/stand on the whole issue.
Q8. Quite a few people think that extensive reading and academic engagement is important for a better understanding of the issues at hand. What do you think about it? Did you review any particular articles or books that helped you with your preparation?
It is definitely important to have some background knowledge about the problem/ proposition you are dealing with because it will eventually help you to look at it from a real-life perspective and build your solutions accordingly. You can even get a bit innovative by building your solutions based on the general industry practice and adding some elements that are your innovation. This will help you to put forward authentic and realistic ideas to negotiate. I generally prefer having an in-depth knowledge about the field of law that I am dealing with, be it sports, music or any specific law.
Q9. What does it take to win? What are your suggestions for those participating in such competitions for the first time?
It is important to work hard and take a mediation competition as seriously as we take any other competition in law school. A lot of people have this perception that mediation does not require a lot of hard work, which in my opinion, is wrong. One should prepare their opening statements thoroughly because that is the only part which is a bit predictable and will help them to set the tone of the whole session. I suggest everyone think out of the box, come with solutions and strategies that will help you pass the impasse and negotiate well with the opposing team. Never give in everything till the time you’ve gained something from the deal. Moreover, information gathering is an important trick for anyone going for a mediation competition for the first time, since it will work as a filler and help you make your next move appropriately.