CMT International Mediation Team: Takeaways from the 17th ICC Competition and Beyond

Top left to bottom right, coaches Luca De Rosa and Milena Mottola, and traveling team members Sebastiano Belfi, Sofia Caruso, Angela Permunian, Jakob Kathrein.

Students Sebastiano Belfi, Sofia Caruso, Jakob Kathrein, and Angela Permunian, coached by alumni Luca De Rosa and Milena Mottola, participated in the 17th edition of the ICC International Commercial Mediation Competition and were awarded the Distinction in Creative Solution Generation.

The Competition, organized by the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris, took place online from 7 to 15 February. 47 university teams from 33 countries engaged in several rounds of mock mediations and received feedback from renowned international ADR practitioners. 

The University of New South Wales (Australia), the University of Auckland (New Zealand), and two Brazilian teams from the University of São Paulo and Pontifical Catholic University of Rio gained access to the final rounds, where the University of Auckland took the win over the University of São Paulo.

During the months prior to the Competition, students at Università degli Studi di Trento trained under the guidance of their coaches, assisted by Conflict Managers of Tomorrow (CMT) alumna Silvia Pizzo and non-traveling team member Alice Catalano.

Although not part of the competing team, Alice actively participated in the training sessions and contributed to the group effort that earned Università degli Studi di Trento the Distinction in Creative Solution Generation.

Conflict managers of tomorrow is one of the highlights of my university studies because it provided me with a new point of view about conflicts, underlying the importance of creative solutions and the central role of mediation. It also gave me the opportunity to learn from extremely prepared coaches and work with brilliant colleagues, from whom I understood the importance of team-work.

Alice Catalano (team member)

This accomplishment adds to the list of remarkable results achieved by Università degli Studi di Trento at national and international ADR competitions. Thanks to peer-teaching and feedback-based learning methods, the training within the Conflict Managers of Tomorrow project has proven particularly effective in equipping students with conflict resolution skills and preparing them to navigate a variety of contexts.

Coaching students was an absorbing yet immensely rewarding and enjoyable experience. The training is not only about getting acquainted with mediation techniques. It is an (unfortunately) rare opportunity for law students to hone oral advocacy skills and learn to project self-esteem. 

Milena Mottola (team coach)

Given the digital format of the Competition, the training at Università degli Studi di Trento was specifically designed to reflect the format of the event. Although training online was undoubtedly challenging for students, the team effectively tackled the issues related to technology and digital environments before and during the Competition.

I had hard times accepting the fact that the Competition would be held entirely online. Nevertheless, the experience proved to be very instructive: not only did it allow me to acquire solid mediation skills, but it also showed me how to properly use technology to effectively communicate with people based in very different and distant parts of the world.
On the one hand, modern technology is a blessing as it enables us to participate in events like the ICC Mediation Competition even during a pandemic; on the other hand, however, technology may also cause some inconveniences. During one of our mediation sessions, for example, we encountered several tech-related challenges. Thanks to our preparation, my teammate and I were able to overcome all hurdles and adapt our strategy to the new circumstances. I believe these soft skills of ours will prove extremely useful throughout our careers as lawyers of the 21st century.

Jakob Kathrein (team member)

Due to the pandemic, we had no option but to learn how to manage mediation via videoconference. From the beginning of our training, we used online videoconferencing platforms to get familiar with such applications, learn how to deal with tech-related issues, and effectively communicate online. Without a doubt, this was an important set of skills to acquire: videoconferencing applications and tools are being increasingly used in dispute resolution and this requires abilities that are very different from the ones needed for in-person interaction. 

Sebastiano Belfi (team member)

Throughout the training, students participated in several mock mediations, engaged in self-reflection, and received feedback from their peers and coaches. As they progressed through their preparation and the rounds of the Competition, students developed a deeper understanding of mediation and acquired a solid set of practical skills in the field.

The ICC competition and preparatory training have been valuable opportunities to put our theoretical knowledge of mediation techniques into practice. We had to understand when to be assertive or compromise, how to convey our interests to develop solutions for mutual gain, … all this while always actively listening to the other party. At the end of each session, we would share our feedback with our coaches, which made the training and the competition itself unique learning experiences.

Sofia Caruso (team member)

The possibility to put their skills to test in an international competition greatly enriched the team’s experience. Students were exposed to the complexity of multicultural environments, which called for the application of effective communication and interpersonal skills.

Thanks to this incredible opportunity, we had the chance to boost our communication skills and interact with participants from various geographical area and cultural backgrounds. This, of course, proved rather challenging. Due to differences in communicative codes and national accents, it was not always easy to understand one another (all the more so in a virtual environment!), but in the end we all managed to overcome such hurdles and have smooth mediation sessions. Moreover, it was interesting to connect and discuss with other participants and learn how approaches to mediation and legal education vary from country to country.
Overall it was a truly enriching experience and, on a personal note, the best way to conclude my path at the Università degli Studi di Trento.

Angela Permunian (team member)
Top left to bottom right, Prof. Silvana Dalla Bontà (CMT Project Coordinator), Jakob Kathrein (team member), Milena Mottola (team coach), Angela Permunian (team member), Rachele Beretta (CMT staff), Sofia Caruso (team member), Sebastiano Belfi (team member), and Luca De Rosa (team coach)

Coaches are extremely proud of the progress students made throughout the training and the Competition.

Thanks to the work and dedication of CMT staff, alumni, and students themselves, students were able to gain hands-on experience in online mediation and develop skills that will prove invaluable in their future career. In spite of the challenges sometimes posed by online environments, the team constantly progressed throughout the rounds of the Competition and made the most out of the experience. As a coach, I am grateful for the opportunities I had to work with the team and facilitate the educational path of such a talented group of students. 

Luca De Rosa (team coach)

In congratulating the team for the results achieved, Prof. Silvana Dalla Bontà (CMT Project Coordinator) expressed her satisfaction with the development of the Conflict Managers of Tomorrow project throughout the years.

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