By: Rachele Beretta, LL.M. in Negotiation & Dispute Resolution, Washington University School of Law ’16

Washington University School of Law alumni currently enrolled at the University of Trento (Italy) are off to a great start this year with high finishes in two major mediation and negotiation competitions, placing first in the 3rd annual Italian Negotiation Competition in Rome and among the top eight mediation teams at the 14th annual International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Commercial Mediation Competition in Paris.

WashULaw alumni & University of Trento students Luca De Rosa and Martina Lucin, coached by WashULaw & University of Trento alumna Rachele Beretta, were on the team participating in the 14th ICC International Commercial Mediation Competition.

Left to right: Rachele Beretta, Luca De Rosa, and Martina Lucin, 14th ICC International Commercial Mediation Competition in Paris

The competition, which is held during ICC Mediation Week, is the world’s largest commercial mediation moot, gathering over 350 students and coaches, as well as 130 dispute resolution professionals of international repute who serve as mediators or expert assessors in the mock mediation sessions. During the week-long event, teams representing 66 universities from around the world engage in several mock mediation sessions to resolve international business disputes with the assistance of expert mediators.

For the first four days of the event, the participating teams competed with each other in the preliminary rounds to gain access to the 1/8 finals. As the sole representative for Italy at the competition, the team from the University of Trento went above and beyond expectations. With great determination and resolve, the team advanced to the quarter finals, only to fall to Canada’s York University, which ultimately finished as the second overall winner.

Confirming the level and quality of their preparation, the University of Trento team, composed of  Luca De Rosa and Martina Lucin as well as WashULaw alumnus & University of Trento student Mattia Cutolo, walked away with the win at the Italian Negotiation Competition in Rome at the end of May. As a pre-moot event for the International Negotiation Competition, the team’s first-place finish thus qualified them to represent Italy in the international phase of the competition, to take place in early July in Tokyo. The international competition features teams selected through local and national pre-moots worldwide. At the upcoming competition, the University of Trento team will put their skills to the test by engaging in several rounds of negotiation over international transactions or the resolution of international disputes.

Luca De Rosa and Mattia Cutolo at the negotiation table, Italian Negotiation Competition in Rome

Such notable achievements are the result of a consolidated synergy between faculty and students of the University of Trento and Washington University School of Law. Thanks to Washington University’s Transnational Law Program, the students could benefit from their experience as team members of Washington University’s ABA Representation in Mediation Competition – under the guidance of coaches Michael Geigerman, United States Arbitration & Mediation (USA&M),  and Jessica Kuchta-Miller, Washington University Office of the Ombuds – and from the skills gained through Washington University’s Negotiation and Dispute Resolution Program, directed by Professor Karen Tokarz. All four Trento students earned LLM degrees, with a concentration in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution, at Washington University School of Law.

Professor Tokarz with WashULaw Alumna and coach of the University of Trento team Rachele Beretta at Washington University’s Commencement

The University of Trento provided further opportunities for the students to strengthen their competencies, thanks in large part to  Professor Silvana Dalla Bontà, ADR Curriculum Director and Coordinator of the Negotiation & Mediation Research Group at the University of Trento. In the light of the growing importance of conflict management skills, the University of Trento has begun to invest in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) training and education to equip students with the necessary skills to enter the job market as full-fledged professionals. To this end, the project coordinated by Professor Dalla Bontà is aimed at shaping a generation of settlement-oriented practitioners that will contribute to spreading the use of ADR as a preferred avenue to court litigation.

This can be achieved thanks to a “learning by doing” approach, which is in turn implemented through coaching and peer teaching. Students are trained to participate in national and international negotiation and mediation competitions, with alumni and senior students acting as trainers and coaches for future participants. Through role-plays and simulations, students are called to resolve conflict scenarios and encouraged to reflect on their performance.

Thanks to this practice-oriented approach, students progressively develop a positive attitude towards conflict and learn how to achieve negotiated or mediated solutions through problem-solving and effective communication. As the Washington University-University of Trento team members noted, participating in the project provided them with the skills to master conflict and bridge differences between divergent positions.

Martina Lucin, Luca De Rosa, and Mattia Cutolo with Professor Tokarz on Washington University’s Commencement Day

Mindful of their experiences and encouraged by the positive results, the students are now concentrating on the upcoming International Negotiation Competition, in the hope that their success will motivate the next generation of students to follow in their footsteps and promote the broader use of ADR.