UMKC School of Law students Keith Kelly, Danielle Wallace and Jennifer Cacchio advanced to the finals of the Transactional LawMeet after winning the regional round in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Another LawMeet student team, consisting of Joey Harris, Andrew Potter and Sarah Smith, competed in the same competition in the regionals in Provo, Utah and received Best Draft.
UMKC School of Law sent two teams to the Transactional LawMeet Regionals: one team to Provo, Utah and another to Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Schools are not permitted to send more than one team to the same regional competition. LawMeets was founded in 2010 by Drexel University law professor Karl Okamoto as a way to deliver practical skills exercises to law students interested in transactional law. This year, LawMeets organized the 9th Annual Transactional LawMeet, with 96 participating teams.
“Danielle and Keith did a knock-out job and now we get to go to New York City next month,” says Jennifer Cacchio (J.D. ’19).
Cacchio served as the alternate on the team while Danielle Wallace (J.D. ’18) and Keith Kelly (J.D. ’18) presented; all three worked on the drafting over the past two months.
The student teams represented either the buyers or sellers of the business. In this fictional scenario, the UMKC team represented a Chinese buyer of an American software company. Their goal was to negotiate a $2.25 billion dollar purchase deal. The team had internal deadlines as they approached the competition date: the team drafted a purchase agreement, conducted two client interviews and marked up one of the opposing team’s drafts. The team marked up the draft to reflect the client’s needs and ensure the deal happened. Then, on February 23, 96 teams negotiated a resolution (split between buyers and sellers). Two teams from each region – one buyer and one seller – were chosen to compete in nationals in New York in early April.
“Unlike other competitions, you don’t win by being adversarial and right,” says Cacchio. “You win by trying to cooperate with the other team and reach a deal that makes both teams happy.”
Professor Del Wright coached the Ft. Lauderdale team in preparations as they drafted their 60-70 page long draft of the contract.
“Our coaches were great,” says Kelly. “We had a lot of advisors who helped in practice negotiation sessions and provided beneficial feedback.”
Kyle Conroy, an adjunct faculty member of Mann Conroy LLC, also served as a coach to the LawMeet teams. Conroy organized and guided both teams, hosted team meetings at his office and advised the students. Ralph Wrobley, a longtime friend of the law school, also served as judge in multiple practice rounds and other M&A (Merger and Acquisition) attorneys from Seigfreid Bingham also generously offered their time to help the UMKC teams. In addition, Professor Tony Luppino also coached and coordinated the teams.
At regionals, the UMKC team competed against a team from the University of Georgia School of Law, who red-lined their draft of the agreement, and a team from Louisiana State University Paul M. Hebert Law Center, who they red-lined. They negotiated two rounds for 50 minutes each in front of four total M&A attorneys and received feedback at the end. UMKC advanced as the best team for the buyer, and the University of Georgia team also advanced as the best team for the seller.
“Now we are tasked with refining our current agreement and red-lining another team’s draft based on information from the regional rounds. We will also have two additional client interviews between now and the national finals at Sullivan & Cromwell in New York,” says Kelly.
Kelly explained that, for him, it was a unique experience since he had previously studied abroad and worked at law firms in Beijing for the past two summers. He was already familiar with Chinese laws and business practices – both in terms of the regulations in China and the U.S. political system, which he felt gave him an advantage in preparing for the competition.
“This has been one of the better things that I’ve done while in law school,” Kelly says. “The LawMeet provided an opportunity to learn practical skills in an area that I’ve had limited experience in within the law school.”
Cacchio expressed the practicality of learning more than one area of interest in law school.
“Whether you want to do transactional work or if you’re interested in litigation, having this skill set is very important,” says Cacchio. “Understanding how these deals happen is important because many end up in litigation at some point. It’s important to know how those deals go down and what happens behind the scenes in order to adequately litigate.”
The LawMeet team of Joey Harris (J.D. ’19), Andrew Potter (J.D. ’18) and Sarah Smith (J.D. ’19) that competed in Provo, Utah did not advance to nationals but were awarded for Best Drafting on their side of the transaction. Conroy also coached this team.
Photo: (left to right) Danielle Wallace, Jennifer Cacchio & Keith Kelly