MSU Law team takes first place at Transactional Law Competition

MSU Law students Tariq Akeel, ’21, and Meg Bauer, ’20, joined forces for the Jaffe Transactional Law Competition and successfully combined their unique strengths to receive first place as buyer’s counsel.

In MSU Law’s first appearance at the competition hosted by Wayne State University Law School and the firm of Jaffe Raitt Heuer and Weiss, the team was faced with the additional challenge of competing virtually due to COVID-19 health and safety advisories.

While the idea of a virtual competition caused initial concern for the team of Akeel and Bauer, they adapted quickly and, to their surprise, the format worked better than anticipated.

“I was pretty apprehensive about negotiating virtually because I thought it would hamstring us: being in the room, being able to observe body language, being able to control how you position the room or where you position yourself in the room, and being able to read each other and play off each other. I was pretty anxious about how we were going to do that, but I thought it worked really well, for the most part,” Bauer explained. “It was harder to convey body language, but it could still be done.”

The competition was carried out via a Zoom video conference with both teams representing the buyer’s and seller’s counsel able to see and converse with one another.
Meanwhile, the judges were present, but they were muted and without video.

“The competition’s goal was to emulate the real-world experience, which is that a client would come into your office and say ‘I’m interested in this sale,’ ask you to write up a letter of intent, you’d draft that letter and then send it over to the other side,” Bauer said. “They look at that letter and make modifications to look the way they want and then they send it back to you to negotiate the terms.”

As a new team competing together for the first time, Akeel, a dual JD-MBA student, and Bauer navigated the competition by relying on, and learning from, each other’s individual skills.

“We were a good team together. We played off each other’s strengths. Meg’s really good at negotiation tactics and connecting with people and I understand a lot of the business aspects of the transaction and the structure, and she does as well, but our personalities kind of balance each other,” Akeel said. “At different times during the negotiations, I would lean on her or she would lean on me, and it really played well together.”

With all the sudden change and adjustments, Akeel and Bauer maneuvered the situation with characteristic calm, and they’re grateful for the experience and its unexpected lessons.

“Honestly, one of the biggest things that I took out of this is to have a little faith in myself. I had absolute faith in Tariq, but it was a good reminder that, yeah, we do know how to do this,” Bauer said. “We can do this pretty well, actually. I’ll remember that.”