MISSOULA – University of Montana Alexander Blewett III School of Law students recently took first place in the American Bar Association-sponsored Law School Regional Negotiation Competition held Nov. 7 in Calgary, Alberta.
The University of Calgary Faculty of Law hosted this year’s regional event. The UM team competed against 20 other law schools from throughout the Northwest and western Canada, and this year additional competitors from Wyoming and California.
This marks the fifth year in a row the UM team advanced to the final round. Team members Nick VandenBos of Bozeman and Lindsay Thane of Missoula advanced to their second final-round appearance in two years. No other UM law school duo ever has appeared twice in consecutive years in the regional competition. The team brought home back-to-back first-place finishes.
Thane and VandenBos also will be the first UM team to consecutively appear at the national competition. Additionally, they set the team record for becoming the only members to compete in two and three, respectively, consecutive final-round appearances with invitations to the national competition.
“That hasn’t happened in the 30 years the law school has fielded teams in the competition,” said team coach Klaus Sitte, a UM adjunct faculty member. “Both Lindsay and Nick’s records will stand for many years.”
Sitte teaches Alternative Dispute Resolution and Negotiation at the UM law school and coaches the negotiation team. He has coached the team since 1990, and has lead seven previous teams to nationals and one team to an international competition appearance. UM negotiation teams have placed second and third nationally in previous years.
The Thane/VandenBos entry into the final round marks the 19th time UM negotiation teams have advanced to compete among the remaining four regional finalists.
“We would not have been able to get this far without the incredible support and effort of all six team members,” Thane said.
“There’s no doubt that the dedication and hard work of the entire team members it what sets UM’s team apart,” VandenBos said.
First-year UM law students Marianne Peters of Dillon and Asa Hohman of Missoula simultaneously advanced to the final round, finishing with a tie for third place. The last time two UM teams appeared in the final round of the regional competition was 2007.
“This year’s competition really put our team’s ability to react quickly to the test,” Peters said. “We were given less than two hours to become familiar with the facts for the final round. That was challenging.”
"We quickly realized we had the skills,” Hohman said. “Now we only needed to learn the facts – fast.”
Kathryn Ore and Frans Andersson, both of Missoula, made their first appearances this year. Ore was an alternate team member last year, while Andersson is new to the team this year.
“It was a very intense competition this year, with a very demanding schedule,” Ore said. “But, with all of the team practice, it’s good to see our efforts pay off.”
“The intense one-day schedule could sap all your energy,” Andersson said. “We were so glad we were well prepared.”
“This is such a fun group of people to work with and coach,” Sitte said. “They’re so eager, so committed and so talented.”
Thane and VandenBos will take a short break before preparing for the February 2016 national competition in San Diego. The national competition will bring together the top teams from the U.S. and Canada.