Queen Mary Team wins the CPR International Mediation Competition in their first-ever participation | Challenges and Key Learnings from Mediator, Counsel, Client and Coach

Mooting competitions have become a common agenda for most of the aspiring lawyers of tomorrow across the world. The usual format of such competitions, however, takes the form of mock litigation or arbitration proceedings, whereas mediation often remains terra incognita for law students who are still at the early stages of familiarizing themselves with the legal profession. Hence, for a brave team of three law students from Queen Mary University of London (“QMUL”), none of whom had any prior experience in mediation, the decision to participate in the CPR International Mediation Competition 2021 (“CPR Competition”) was akin to a real baptism by fire.

Reflecting on their experience in the CPR Competition, it became clear that one of the most valuable experiences was the lessons learned from both the participants, as well as the distinguished alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) practitioners who acted as judges. The competition structure not only simulated realistic challenges but also offered insight into the process of mediation and served as a basis to explore best practices in mediation as future ADR lawyers. Thus, the team would like to share the lessons learned from the CPR Competition to incentivise students to explore ADR by participating in mediation competitions and to provide information on what such competitions involve.

The team was represented by a negotiations team comprised of Ms. Jessica Sblendorio, LLM Comparative and International Dispute Resolution Student, as counsel and Ms. Andra Tofan, LLB English and European Law Student, as client, as well as Ms. Parnian Mohammadi, LLB Law Student, as mediator. With QMUL participating for the first time in a mediation competition, the team’s priority, with the guidance of their coach, Ms. Lilit Nagapetyan, a PhD candidate from QMUL’s School of International Arbitration, was to learn about the process of mediation and improve both their communication and negotiation skills in an individual capacity and as a team.

Overview of the CPR Competition

The CPR Competition is organised on a yearly basis in São Paolo, Brazil. The fourth edition was conducted online for the first time via Zoom between the 13th and 21st of March 2021, and gathered students from universities located in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

The CPR Competition offers students the opportunity to learn and develop practical skills for mediation and negotiation through role-playing and engagement with a realistic dispute submitted to mediation that is drafted by experienced mediators and ADR practitioners.

The problem drafting committee challenged participants with an engaging and commercially realistic dispute submitted to mediation where time was of the essence against the political backdrop of a civil war and developing humanitarian crisis. As the competition progressed, the confidential sheets released prior to each round reflected an evolution of the issues. Thi