Interview with Mehak, a student of NLIU, Bhopal. List of competitions she has participated in:
- Winner, 4th Mediation Tournament of Lex Knot organised by ICFAI Law School, Hyderabad.
- Runners up and best negotiating team in prelims, 2nd RGNUL Sports and Entertainment Law Mediation Competition, Patiala.
- Quarter Finalists (Ranked 1 in Preliminary Rounds), ICC International Commercial Mediation Competition, Hong Kong 2020.
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?
My journey of these competitions has been great and exciting which is inclusive of the challenges that I faced. For the ICC Hong Kong competition, the challenges actually bought out the best of my performance. The challenges can be overcome through team coordination and comparing your speech and mediation plan with the score sheet that is provided by the organising committee of the competition
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?
I have had a consistent partner for all my national competitions, where I was the counsel most of the time. Our pairing was comfortable for me and it was a success always for both of us. For the international competition, my team was very understanding and I was working with all of them for the first time. It was great and smooth and I realised that I can be both, a client and a counsel because of all the simulation we did for practice rounds. The team was very supportive and that was very well reflected in our performance. The team dynamic is very important as the pairing has to be complementary. It is important to find a common ground and have good team coordination and communication to achieve an effective outcome.
Q3. Each team has their own way of approaching a mediation. Please tell us something about your approach. Do you think it gives you an edge over other teams?
My team’s approach was to read problem again and again. This helps in identifying the issues, concerns, goals and agenda of your mediation which helps in better preparation for the competitions. It is important to have a mediation plan as it really helped me and my partner in understanding the problem. Once you have understood the problem in and out, it becomes easier to come up with solutions that are creative and unique. Even though the competition can be unpredictable, it is always better to be prepared.
Q4. How would you describe your experience in the 4th Mediation Tournament of Lex Knot?
The win was really unexpected as it was my first competition. It was a phenomenal experience. I was scared, but I had prepared thoroughly so I was prepared to face any problems head on. It was a great learning opportunity as one can learn a lot from the small cues of the other party. This was when I started liking the field of ADR as well.
Q5. You’ve been runners up and best negotiating team in prelims for the 2nd RGNLU Sports and Entertainment Law Mediation , quarter finalists for the ICC Commercial Mediation Competition (Hong Kong 2020), what do you think got you over the edge of other teams?
For the RGNLU mediation me and my partner were very prepared to give out best. We used to practice the problem every day, by making flowcharts and writing down the opening statements. We also used to surf the internet to gain inspiration for creative solutions to the problem. For the ICC Hong Kong mediation competition, our team’s coach really helped us to understand what actually is mediation/negotiation at the end of the day, the format of a national and international competition varies a lot so all of us gained a lot by doing simulations on problems crafted by professionals in the field used in competitions like ICC Paris, ICC Australia which really helped us to understand the structure, format and what the judges expect from us. For both my national and international competition, I took my practice time and rounds very seriously because they you help you understand your rights and wrongs and make amends accordingly.
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?
Yes, I have thought about it as I do have an interest in this field. Mediation seems like a promising filed especially now, with many developments having taken place and also taking place in the future. Yet, there is a long way to go but this remains as an option for me.
Q7. What according to you is the best way of strategically utilizing the mediator?
The mediator is an important party to any session and teams are often concerned about their floor time that they tend to forget about him. o score those brownie points, it’s essential to involve him in the process. You may use his guidance during agenda setting, a deadlock between the parties by calling a caucus or a cross caucus, by putting in between filler lines to make sure that the parties are on a right track.
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?
I did read the book “Getting to Yes” by Roger Fisher and William Ury which did help me a lot. It helped me understand a lot aspects of the process of negotiating and what really goes on during a session. I also did read certain articles, but they were related to the fact situation of the problem.
Q9. What does it take to win? What are your suggestions for those participating in such competitions for the first time?
One important thing to consider is that no competition is small, you learn a lot from all competitions. The knowledge and outreach that you gain is always great. I would recommend that you should participate in as many competitions as you can as they are really fun as well. It is also helpful if you watch videos of mediation/negotiation on YouTube as that can help you gain a perspective about the whole setup and how parties put forward their concerns. For first timers, I would say that don’t take much stress, just practice daily and create a timeline that is best suited for you as that can help you plan ahead. Enjoy the process of preparation, don’t forget to take a break and most importantly have fun! You got this!