Food Fight – “ITS” Going to be a Good One

M

Pictured Above: (Clockwise from top left) [Judges:] Jon Dunlap, Diana Lin, [Students:] Scott Himelein, Elissa Harvey, Jason Laicha, Allie Jones

Maybe number 7 is the charm, but the seventh anniversary of the Introduction to Transactional Skills Program (ITS), Friday October 12, may have been the most impressive showing yet. According to faculty coordinator Professor Andrea Monroe, 188 students participated, 14 faculty members taught small section classes, including our illustrious Dean, Greg Mandel, 14 upper-level students TA’d the small section classes, and a team of technology superheroes and partners from the law school’s administrative staff made everyone look good.

ITS, for those who don’t know, is Temple Law’s two-week immersion in negotiating and drafting a business deal. Students pair off to represent either a restauranteur (“Emeril Starr”) or his investor (“Carly Whitman”). Students learn how to identify and address typical transactional issues in such a deal, including how much money Carly puts in, how much equity Emeril gets, what the covenant-not-to compete covers, and so on.

This year, for the first time, every ITS final negotiation – that’s right, ALL 47 sessions — occurred simultaneously. Finding every open spot in Klein and Barrack, and with the help of 70 intrepid alumni and other participants, the saga of Chef Starr and financier Whitman was played out yet again throughout the law school. This year, there was a slight change to the fact pattern which had the effect of nudging our burgeoning transactional lawyers to find creative ways to supplement and find solutions to save a difficult business relationship that had gone bad. In the wake of the recent bankruptcy of the Restaurant King, Jose Garces, this fact pattern strongly resonated with students and the “real world” of the food business.

As Professor Jonathan Lipson, a long-time ITS instructor, observed, “ITS … is: educational and engaging for the students; impressive and inclusive for the alumni-judges; and easy and fun for (faculty).” Teams of two students each represented Carly and Emeril, taking their relationship from term sheet to contract to settlement. As in the past, the teams were given a “surprise” fact development in Friday’s final round, only 45 minutes before the final negotiations were scheduled to begin.

In talking with the students, most if not all of them enjoyed the change of pace smack in the middle of their first semesters in law school. It got them “out of their comfort zone” and allowed them to meet students from outside their sections while still navigating the 1L experience. Although occurring during a difficult time of the semester, the exercise exposed many to an area of law they had not seriously considered. When asked, most students identified litigation, criminal law, public service, and the like as primary areas of interest. Recognizing the creativity and ability to effect real solutions for clients through transactional work was, for many, an “aha” moment.

Although a significant amount of work, Professor Monroe says that “it’s really a pleasure to coordinate the course – I think it’s Temple at its best with faculty, upper level students, staff, and our amazing alums working together to provide a unique and innovative introduction to transactional skills and transactional lawyering for the newest members of our community, the 1Ls.”

Of course, because no good deed goes unpunished, Professor Monroe observed that “with this semester in the books, it’s time to start planning for next semester, when we do the whole thing again for our evening division 1Ls.”