PUBLISHED:February 15, 2023

Students negotiate complex mineral rights deal to win 2023 Transactional Law Competition


1L and LLM students competed in teams to argue a fictional transactional law deal before judges in this annual competition at Duke Law

Students in the dual-degree and LLM programs were victorious at the Transactional Law Competition held Saturday, Feb. 11 at Duke Law School. Coming in first place were Hunter Jung JD/LLMLE ’25 and Sahiti Siddharth LLM ’23 for the buyer-side team and Helen Li JD/MA ’25 and Brittany Ajaj JD/LLMLE ’25 for the seller-side team.

“The entire competition was an enthralling experience,” Siddharth said. “It was certainly a race against time marking up term sheets just within an hour and the negotiations led to some intense moments with both- us and our opponents advocating passionately for our clients.”

Sahiti Siddharth LLM ’23, Hunter Jung JD/LLMLE ’25, Helen Li JD/MA’ 25, and Brittany Ajaj JD/LLMLE ’25
Sahiti Siddharth LLM ’23, Hunter Jung JD/LLMLE ’25, Helen Li JD/MA ’25, and Brittany Ajaj JD/LLMLE ’25

The Transactional Law Competition allows student teams to compete against one another in a hands-on transactional practice competition offered for 1Ls and LLMs. With the 1L curriculum largely focusing on litigation, the Competition provides participating first-year students with an introduction to corporate themes and transactional law practice. 

Students participated in a mock contract mark-up and negotiation in two-person teams, each representing their client in a fictional deal. The problem set involved a complex mineral rights transaction taking place in Antarctica between a mining conglomerate and a non-profit organization, said Brian Budd ’24, president of the Transactional Law Competition Board.

Students completed a mini-transaction deal by marking up documents and negotiating terms against an opposing team. The event included a half-day negotiation for students and judging by practicing attorneys from across the United States. 

Ajaj said, “I was amazed by the enthusiasm and intricate mark-up and negotiation techniques of my peers. I really enjoyed working on a complex deal in a subject area I was not well-versed in and figuring out ways to provide unique solutions for my client.”

An awards ceremony rounded out the day’s activities with the first-place winners being announced, in addition to second-place winners Chloe Wallace ’25, Jack Bergantino ’25, Cole Horton JD/LLMLE ’25, and Zilin Wang ’25, and third-place winners Abigail Biddle ’25, Kiran Singh JD/LLMLE ’25, Jimmy Scoville ’25, and Ashwin Iyer ’25. Snir Geuli LLM ’23 and Florencia Fernandez LLM ’23 won Outstanding LLM Team.

Snir said, “I enjoyed working with my partner in the preparations and negotiations. The problem set was very complex and required a joint effort to devise the best strategy for the various issues. I felt we complemented each other well and I am certain that this experience, and others in the Law School, will benefit me in my career.”

Siddharth added: “This has genuinely heightened my existing interest in transactional law and brought me closer to my dream of working in tech M&A and tech transactional law.”

Following the awards ceremony, students enjoyed a reception at Star Commons. The top three teams from the buyer side and the seller side have the opportunity to join the Transactional Law Society board. New board members have the opportunity to participate in national and regional transactional law related competitions.

Transactional Law Competition organizers expressed gratitude to the participating judges, including Griffin Baker ’21 (Weil, Gotshal & Manges), Jullian Bao ’20 (Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison), Robert Barnes ’16 (The Coco-Cola Company), Kathleen Blanchard ’17 (Hogan Lovells), Daria Butler and David Chambers JD/LLMLE ’16 (Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer), Anne Croteau T’95 (McGuireWoods), Neil Datar ’20 (Kirkland & Ellis), Lee Davis ’10 (Baker Botts), Porter Durham (McGuireWoods LLP), Senior Lecturing Fellow Caroline Gottschalk ’90 (Simpson Thacher), Joe Higdon ’17 (Vinson & Elkins), Dylan Lionberger ’18 (Weil), Carlos Manzano ’19 (Parker Poe), Travis Michaud ’19 (Weil), Cade Morgan (Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP), Nikoleta Nikova ’21 (Schulte Roth & Zabel), Nicole Phillips ’21 (Jones Day), Dalton Powell JD/LLMLE ’20 (Latham & Watkins), Dave Powell (King & Spalding), Lauren Randle JD/MBA ’10 (Baker Botts), Ekaterina Roze (Sullivan & Cromwell), Shareef Salfity ’21 (Simpson Thacher), Sean Semmler ’18 (Wilson Sonsini), Christopher Shorey JD/MBA ’21 (Ropes & Gray), Jake Wasserman ’17 (Latham & Watkins), Lauren Williams (Venable), Jared Wolfson ’21 (Kirkland & Ellis), and Charlie Wowk ’21 (Sullivan & Cromwell).

The Transactional Law Competition is sponsored by the Transactional Law Society, as well as Weil, Akin Gump, Baker Botts, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Hogan Lovells, Latham & Watkins, McGuireWoods, Orrick, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; Ropes & Gray, and Venable.  

Scenes from the 2023 Transactional Law Competition