The weekend of Nov. 6 proved to be “magical” in the eyes of Ed McDermott, mock trial and mediation coach at the College of the Holy Cross. McDermott and three students headed south to the 15th Annual International Intercollegiate Mediation Tournament held at Brenau University in Gainesville, Ga. The newly formed team, which consisted of seniors Emily Cross ‘15, Jonathan Formichella ‘15, and Robert Tiro ’15, placed third out of the 42 teams that competed in the tournament. The win earned them a bid to compete at the 14th Annual International Law School Mediation Championships hosted by Drake University Law School in March of 2015. The Holy Cross team will be one of only four undergraduate institutions to compete at the law school mediation level. This was the first attempt for McDermott and the students in this new genre of legal competition.
The event, which was hosted by the International Academy of Dispute Resolution founded in 2002, was created as a means of raising awareness of mediation. The mission of the organization is to encourage society to resolve differences and disputes in a more sensitive and compassionate manner; and to promote peace and civility in human behavior.
“Mediation is crucial to our legal system,” says Tiro, a political science major. “Primarily, it’s a growing practice which allows individuals to take control of their own legal troubles without enrolling in the emotional and financial difficulties of a trial. Secondly, mediation allows people to work to a resolution while talking, person to person, with the other side. Having a candid and frank dialogue with an opponent to come to a resolution is a valuable learning process in itself.”
McDermott had been an observer and panelist at mediation competitions across the state and ultimately thought his students at Holy Cross would be up for the challenge. He approached Cross, Formichella, and Tiro, who were already a part of the mock trial program, and they jumped at the opportunity.
The teams received the case ten days in advance of the competition and were each assigned a role to portray: lawyer, client, and mediator. Before the competition started the teams were given secret facts, which further complicated the case. “This is an important part of the program as now the students have to think on their feet and be ready for anything,” McDermott explains. As he watched his students perform against the competition, McDermott was constantly reminded how poised and professional they were.
“I am extremely proud of these three seniors who volunteered to undertake this brand new mediation project. To be able to accomplish what they did as a brand new entry in this nation-wide competition is truly a remarkable academic feat and speaks to not only their intellects but to their character. I hope that we are able to build upon this success by providing the same type of experience to other students through an expanded mediation program here at the College,” he adds.
McDermott’s admiration for the students is equally reciprocated by them. “As our coach, Ed brings his own experience and knowledge to our practices along with an extremely positive attitude,” says Cross, an English major. “What is so great about Ed is that he really believes in each of us. He is very encouraging and that makes a huge difference in our team dynamics. He knows his team and is able to place us each in roles that will help the team succeed. I’ve learned so much from him.”
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