A new competition at the University of Virginia School of Law will give students interested in business law an opportunity to present their mock negotiations before a panel of practicing corporate lawyers.
The Transactional Law Competition will kick off Jan. 28 and conclude with final negotiations and a networking luncheon Feb. 25 at the Darden School of Business. Registration is open now to second- and third-year UVA Law students as individuals or two-member teams.
The event is sponsored by the Virginia Law Emerging Companies & Venture Capital Society, the John W. Glynn, Jr. Law & Business Program, the Virginia Law & Business Review, the Virginia Law & Business Society, and Rivanna Investments. The competition is financially sponsored by the law firm Cooley.
Professor George S. Geis, director of the Law & Business Program, said courses focus on practice-oriented transactional work, but the competition will offer another angle for students who are interested in trying out this type of business law. To succeed, he said, students will need to identify and prioritize the key interests of their clients, understand the broad dimensions of the deal terms, think creatively and negotiate an approach that maximizes deal benefits while also staying within the “zone of the possible.”
“I think it is difficult for students to appreciate what transactional work in business law looks like until they have had an opportunity to join an actual deal,” Geis added.
After students register, the competition’s organizers will release a packet of information over winter break about clients, possible agreements, the context of the negotiation and other resources. On Jan. 28, professors will discuss the different agreements and what factors participant might consider in a similar negotiation. Competitors will then draft a “term sheet” — a nonbinding agreement showing their preferred terms and conditions — to trade with their opposing counsel two weeks after the kickoff. After exchanging agreements, participants will have two more weeks to prepare for mock negotiations on Feb. 25.
Matt Cook ’22, ECVC’s director of communications, helped come up with the idea. After participating in the Jaffe Transactional Law Competition at Wayne State University, he wanted to create a similar experience for UVA Law students.
“The Jaffe Transactional Competition helped me learn what it means to be a practicing transactional attorney, but I also became closer with my teammates who were fellow UVA Law students,” he said. “We all agreed this kind of competition would fit perfectly within the UVA community since the culture at UVA fosters team collaboration.”
ECVC President Lauren Johnson ’22 said she loved the idea of holding an event comparable to the annual William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition for students interested in pursuing transactional law.
“The Law & Business Program here has attracted a lot of students interested in pursuing this type of work,” she said, “but the actual practice of corporate and transactional law is significantly different than law school itself, so I saw this as a chance to give students a chance to get their feet wet by participating in a full mock negotiation process.”
Johnson said she hopes the competition will give students experience drafting a term sheet and working through the negotiation process before they start working at a firm. She added that the event will build a network connecting students and organizations focused on transactional work with the attorneys who are serving as judges.
“We hope it will be a really fun opportunity to learn more about transactional business law, and receive feedback and advice from a variety of lawyers who practice in this area,” Geis said.