A team of two students from Fordham Law’s Dispute Resolution Society advanced twice to reach the quarterfinal round last month at the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Commercial Mediation Competition in Paris.
Rachelle Polsky ’18 and Edgar Mendoza ’17, accompanied by student coach Allison Silverman ’17, made it far into the elimination round from a field of mediation teams representing 65 international universities.
“The ICC competition is tremendous,” said Maria Vanikiotis ’15, who, along with Ariel Choi ’15, served as the team’s alumna coach. “Teams come from all over the world. It’s a really great experience to meet law students from other programs, observe their style, and learn from them.”
Each year, the ICC pits competitors against each other in a series of mock mediations, presided over by professional mediators. These scenarios are modeled off those faced by the mediators in the course of their work.
Polsky and Mendoza received four such problems from the ICC this past November, which they then analyzed and mooted in preparation for the competition, often arriving as early as 8 a.m. to work on their arguments before attending a full day of classes. The pair rehearsed the problems with Mendoza serving as the client and Polsky as the attorney, roles they held throughout.
“One interesting problem we worked on was a copyright dispute for a hit song that was recorded in the late ‘60s,” said Polsky. “The songwriter had just recently passed away and she didn’t know back when the song was released that she had any legal recourse. Mendoza played Yak Print, a fellow musician who was seeing the copyright claim through on the band’s behalf against some very successful musicians.”
Though most universities competing in the ICC mediation competition sent four-member teams, Fordham elected to send only Polsky and Mendoza. Out of the 65 teams that competed, Fordham was one of only 16 that advanced in the competition, finishing among the top eight teams overall.
“If we had sent four people it would have been two pairs and ultimately they would have received one overall score for Fordham,” said Silverman. “But Polsky and Mendoza were really eager to take on all four problems. It was twice as much work for them, but they were fantastic. They got better each time, and they were certainly the team to watch.”
Students from Fordham’s DRS have made impressive showings at the ICC mediation competition before, taking home top honors in 2011, and securing multiple entries to the contest’s elimination round in succeeding years. Professor Jacqueline Nolan-Haley serves as faculty advisor to the DRS and was particularly admiring of the ICC team’s achievement.
“I am impressed by the dedication of Rachelle and Edgar and extremely proud of their accomplishments in the international arena,” Nolan-Haley said.
The DRS rigorously vets its membership and competes both domestically and internationally throughout the year.
“DRS is one of the best things I did while I was at Fordham, and the alumni network is really strong,” said Vanikiotis. “We really reach out to each other; we like to go back and participate because we want to give back to the program that gave us so much.”
Fordham Law’s Dispute Resolution program was recently ranked #14 in the country by U.S News & World Report.