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UW Law Students Make History in Negotiations Competition

March 27, 2018

Two UW Law students competed in the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) Negotiations competition during Spring Break in Brooklyn, N. York. The students competed at the Annual National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA) Nelson Mandela International Negotiations Competition during the 50th Annual NBLSA Convention.

deb-sarah
Debra Bulluck and Sarah Davis

Third-year law student Debra Bulluck of Madison, Ala. and second-year law student Sarah Davis of San Antonio, Tex. are the first Wyoming Law students ever to compete in this competition.

Though they were knocked out in the semi-final round, they brought home several accolades. Davis was named the National Best Negotiator for the overall competition, and both Davis and Bulluck were awarded the National Best Negotiators of the Second Preliminary Round. They were also the highest scoring team overall in the preliminary rounds.

While the end of the story is thrilling, it is the journey that got them there that will leave a lasting impression.

In order to even compete and attend the conference, Bullock and Davis had to start the inaugural chapter of the BLSA in Wyoming. Without the numbers required for a solo chapter, the women were able to house the chapter under the existing Minority Law Students Association (MLSA) in the College of Law.

Bulluck was the real driving force behind the whole operation.

“This had been a goal of mine since I began law school,” says Bulluck. “I knew I wanted to be a member of this organization, so I became a member at large, but it was something that was really important to me to see through until the end, not only for my own law school experience, but for others as well.”

Bulluck spent her first two years of law school trying to reinvigorate the MLSA club in the hopes that it would be the best avenue for the success of the BLSA chapter. She did all of the research about starting a chapter, made connections with other BLSA members, and went to the College of Law administration about that actual implementation.

“My law school journey would have been incomplete without this,” she explains. “You can’t talk about diversity at a school if you don’t have the inclusion infrastructure to maintain and support your minority students. I feel like we were able to make a significant contribution to the College that will be an asset for incoming minority students, and will hopefully inspire other minority groups to follow suit with their respective organizations.”

That is where Sarah Davis comes in. Davis knew that once she was on board, she’d be carrying the torch into the future for the BLSA chapter and the student competition.

“This isn’t just a one and done thing that we wanted to do,” says Davis. “I knew that by doing this, I was making a commitment to make sure that Wyoming remains active in the BLSA and has a chapter going forward.”

Davis believes that by sustaining the BLSA chapter, it really enriches the College of Law. It provides an opportunity for minority students to tap into an amazing network and national community, and an opportunity for other students to step out of their comfort zone and gain some valuable perspective and insight.

“The demographics of our student population are always a challenge here,” she comments. “While there is a commitment to doing better on that front, I hope that we can start getting students involved and excited about this organization early on in their law school career. It is such an important opportunity step out of our own comfort zones even if it is just to listen.”

If the creation and sustainability of the BLSA chapter was step one, the next obstacle was the competition.

The College of Law has several student competitions, many of which are negotiations competitions. Traditionally, the College has solicited outside support from law firms to sponsor a competition, which pays for the travel to bigger competitions. With no such infrastructure in place to support this particular endeavor, Bulluck and Davis decided to commit anyway and work to make the pieces fall together.

They signed up for the competition and began preparing, while at the same time trying to find support from other organizations on campus. They made appeals to ASUW, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and the College of Law and were finally able to cover their expenses.

To prepare for the competition, Bulluck and Davis signed up for the College of Law local ABA Negotiations Competition. The wanted to gain a better understanding of competition rounds and to gel their technique, but the duo functioned as a cohesive unit from the get go.

“It was less about our ability to compete and more about our ability to communicate,” says Davis. “We didn’t know what the competition was going to be like, but we did know that we felt confident in our skills and ability to work together.”

Both students brought their skills to the table as well. As the Student Clinic Directorfor the Immigrant and Family Justice Clinic at the College of Law, Bullock has worked on multiple cases for clients state-wide to develop her abilities. Meanwhile, Davis has gained valuable experience in a local law firm, where her supervisor has allowed her to be extremely hands-on in legal proceedings. With their strong practical background, the team was a force to be reckoned with.

Since returning from the trip, Bulluck and Davis have been proactive in sharing their experience with their fellow law students in the hopes that others can pick up where they left off and expand on their experience going forward.

“This has been a tremendous opportunity for us, and I really encourage others to be bold, take risks, and pursue the unknown. You never know what knowledge you’ll gain,” encourages Bulluck.

One final silver lining that came of the connection to the NBLSA, is that Bulluck has submitted and been accepted for publication in Legal Pad, the official publication of the National Black Law Student Association. Her piece entitled, “Understanding the Barriers that Prevent Black Women from Seeking Legal Remedies for Domestic Violence and What Young Black Jurists Can Do,” is expected to be out in the upcoming spring issue.

The College of Law is extremely proud of Bulluck and Davis. Their initiative to better themselves, their commitment to equity and inclusion, and their determination to continually give back are qualities that we are excited to see endure well into their legal careers.


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