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ASU team wins national mediation competition


April 25, 2012

Jo-Ann Handy and Andrew High, both third-year law students at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, recently were named national champions of the American Bar Association Representation in Mediation Competition.

“When Andrew and Jo-Ann tried out for the team it was clear that they had natural ability and would be a formidable duo,” said Art Hinshaw, director of the College of Law’s Lodestar Dispute Resolution Program. “The question I always have when I see such raw talent is whether they will work hard enough and whether we can coach them well enough to get them to elite status. Obviously they worked hard enough and our coach, Kristine Reich (Class of 2008), was able to coach them well.

“After the final round the students just happened to speak with the professor who wrote the final problem,” Hinshaw said. “She said that the team ‘was spot on.’ ” 

Handy and High competed against nine other regional teams in the national rounds on April 21-22 in Washington, D.C. They swept the judges’ ballots. 

A second ASU team, Daniel Crane and Alex Anemone, both second-year law students, competed in the regional rounds and acted as adversaries during practice rounds with Handy and High.

“Moot court programs are one of the most valuable experiences a student can have in law school, and we are incredibly proud of the efforts and achievements of our student teams, faculty and community advisors, and staff who make our program one of the best in the country,” said Dean Douglas Sylvester.

This is the second time an ASU team has won the championship. The first time was in 2006, with the team of Reich and Mikel Steinfeld.

Reich is now a family law attorney at Donison Law Firm, PLLC, specializing in mediation, negotiated settlements and collaborative divorce. She helped coach this year’s team, working with alumni Sam Efird, Patrick Gorman, Kirk Howell, Erika Mansur and Trish Stuhan.

“Jo-Ann and Andrew demonstrated exemplary teamwork during the competition, which ultimately gave them the edge they needed to win,” Reich said. “Each could spontaneously redirect the dialogue to their advantage. Jo-Ann was particularly skillful at active listening and understanding the nuances of human conflict. Andrew had a knack for navigating the process and engaging the opposing party into problem solving.”

“Bottom line . . . Jo-Ann and Andrew are the kind of lawyers I would want to hire in the future.”

Reich said that, while coaching, she shared with the law students skills that she learned competing in the Representation in Mediation Competition and uses every day in legal practice.

“It is gratifying to approach legal work in a holistic, problem solving manner that strongly represents a client’s interest while skillfully gathering information and generating creative options and outcomes,” Reich said. “And, problem-solving lawyers do much to bolster the image of the legal profession.”