The winners of Harvard Law School’s 51st annual Williston competition were recognized in a reception in Pound Hall on Tuesday, April 6. The competition, sponsored by the Board of Student Advisers, offers first-year students the opportunity to practice negotiation and contract drafting. Forty-two teams of two students participated in the competition.

This year’s scenario featured a low-cost airline, Fresh Air Airlines, interested in locating its headquarters in the city of Boston. This fact pattern was inspired by reality, as Virgin Atlantic Airlines’ new low-cost carrier is currently considering Boston for its headquarters. In teams of two, participants were assigned to represent Boston or the airline. They negotiated about selection of a headquarters building, training and transportation incentives, and the number and location of gates at Logan Airport. After coming to a negotiated agreement, students documented it in a twelve-page contract and drafted a memorandum to their client explaining the substance of the contract.

The competition scores were based both on the substance of the negotiated agreement and the excellence of the contract drafting. The negotiation score considered not only how much value a team achieved for their client, but also how well the teams worked together to devise value-creating solutions. For example, winning teams, among other ideas, developed a discount airline ticket program for Boston employees, decorated the airline’s planes with images of Boston, and welcomed Fresh Air to the city with banners hung in high-visibility areas.

First and second place winners were named for both students representing Boston and those representing the airline:

Eight honorable mention teams were also named. Third-year student Candace Modlin created the problem and served as chairperson of the competition. Lecturer Robert Bordone, deputy director of Harvard Negotiation Research Project, supervised the creation of the negotiation problem and competition.

Photo courtesy of Justin Knight