Negotiating legal disputes occurs in many places, but not often in a camp in the desert outside Dubai.
That is where three students from Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law placed third among many teams from around the world in the 2022 ADR ODR International Ad Hoc Negotiation Competition.
The team – JD candidates Zakaria Amin ’23, Aram Kazarian ’23 and Tyler Makin ’24 – also went by “The Three Habibis” [“habibi” is an Arabic term of endearment]. It was Chapman’s third time at the November competition, which focuses on using negotiation skills to resolve a conflict.
“As the world gets smaller in terms of the ability and need to communicate across cultures, opportunities like this are key,” says Professor Nancy Schultz, who directs the law school’s advocacy and dispute resolution certificate and competition programs. “We all need to remember that we are far more similar than different.”
Team members said the competition let them experience both similarities and differences in cultures.
“The opportunity to represent Chapman on the global stage was enticing, but the most appealing aspect was the chance to explore a completely foreign part of the world and meet people from countries and cultures that I’ve only read about,” Makin says.
Amin, who competed for the second year in a row, says the practice of alternative dispute resolution “seems to unify advocates from across the world because the goal is to find creative solutions to problems.”
“It was beautiful to see all of us bring our own unique approach to resolving disputes and learn and grow from one another.”
Competing against teams from around the world forced the team to “rethink how we communicate and what assumptions we are making,” Makin says.
Kazarian says he got to “experience styles of negotiation I might otherwise not encounter.”
The competition’s final round was held at a tent camp in the desert and included traditional food and entertainment. Amin, an Arabic speaker whose parents immigrated to the United States from Syria, enjoyed sharing what he understood of the local culture.
“Even so, parts of the experience were a culture shock because the Emiratis are so unique and kind in their approach to everything,” he says.
The three men enjoyed their time in the United Arab Emirates, where multicultural Dubai has seemingly “popped out of thin air in the past few decades,” says Makin, who made his first trip to the Middle East.
Schultz says she is always excited to give students chances to travel abroad.
“We all need to get out of our comfort zones now and then,” she says. “And Chapman aims to shape global citizens — this is the perfect way to do that.”
Makin says the competition “opened my eyes to the breadth of opportunities that a law degree can create.”
The chance to compete in Dubai differentiates Chapman, he says.
“Whether a student is interested in foreign diplomacy, professional sports, or something completely different, Chapman has an opportunity for anyone willing to put in the work to succeed,” he says.
Kazarian says he felt fortunate to have the chance to compete internationally while experiencing a new culture.
“I hope Chapman continues to offer this experience for law students in the future,” he says.