Joining the Alternative Dispute Resolution Society while in law school is very beneficial for a variety of reasons. To name a few, students gain experience with negotiation skills such as the ability to develop succinct, well-articulated ideas and arguments, and to be a patient listener. However, my favorite part of participating in ADR is learning from my weaknesses. Every round, I carefully absorb the feedback provided to improve for the next round. I also love observing how the opposing team has decided to approach the negotiation in order to learn from their strengths and weaknesses in addition to my own.
The basics of preparing for a competition are pretty straightforward. You are provided with your set of shared facts and confidential, then you have 24 hours to make a mediation plan which includes your bottom line and best possible outcome, as well as your strengths, weaknesses, and clients interests.
The biggest mistake I have ever made in a competition was that I had made too many assumptions about what the opposing team was going to be arguing. Essentially, I had scripted the whole mediation in my head. I thought I knew exactly how it was going to play out.