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UW Law Students Take Second in National Energy Law Negotiation Competition

April 2, 2018
two men posing in front of poster
UW law students Nick Dillinger, left, and Jason Matzen took second in the fourth annual Energy Law Negotiation Competition March 24-25 in Houston. (UW Photo)

Two University of Wyoming College of Law students finished second in the fourth annual Energy Law Negotiation Competition March 24-25 at the South Texas College of Law in Houston.

The team of Nick Dillinger, of Gillette, and Jason Matzen, of Sheridan, achieved UW’s highest-ever finish at the event.

The national competition, which is rapidly becoming one of the highest-profile energy events for law colleges in the region, boasts representation from leading energy companies and law firms across the nation. Students are judged by experts in the oil and gas industry, and they benefit from networking opportunities surrounding the competition.

Dillinger and Matzen are both second-year law students. They earned their spot by winning the local energy negotiation competition in February. The duo also competed in, and won, the local American Bar Association Negotiation Competition in early March.

They spent many hours preparing with their faculty adviser, UW Associate Professor Tara Righetti, and last year’s local energy negotiation competition winners.

“It was exciting to compete and finish as well as we did,” Dillinger says. “It just goes to show that, if you put in the time and have really knowledgeable advisers like Professor Righetti and Professor (Danielle) Cover, you can come into a negotiation prepared to represent your clients’ interest.”

While in Houston, Dillinger and Matzen also tapped into the UW alumni network for guidance and mentorship.

“It was a really great opportunity to talk through our strategies with our Wyoming alums and delve into areas that they might be experts in,” Matzen says. “It offered a really unique perspective and helped us to fully appreciate the practical application of the law in the industry.”

Righetti credits Dillinger and Matzen’s success to their ability to use the strong combination of legal fundamentals and substantive knowledge in a specific area of the law that the College of Law promotes.

“We went up against bigger schools with very established competition programs,” Righetti says. “Our success was related to their strategy, negotiation approach and their understanding of the underlying energy issues. I am particularly proud of their hard work and dedication.”

Dillinger earned his undergraduate degree at the University of California-Berkeley. With a deep interest in energy and natural resources, the Gillette native returned to Wyoming for his law degree. He is pursuing a joint master’s degree with UW’s Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources, and he plans to practice in the energy field after graduation.

Matzen earned his bachelor’s degree at UW. During law school, he has worked at the Wyoming Public Defender’s Office in Cheyenne through the College of Law externship program. He is broadly interested in civil law and has enjoyed expanding his legal knowledge in many areas. He says he is excited at the prospect of becoming a Wyoming attorney and giving back to the state.

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