Three Students Take National Championship at Securities Dispute Triathlon

Ricky Clifton, Whitney Griffin and Dillon King

Ricky Clifton, Whitney Griffin and Dillon King

OXFORD, MISS. (Oct. 20, 2015)-Ricky Clifton, Whitney Griffin and Dillon King of the University of Mississippi School of Law won first place at the 2015 Securities Dispute Resolution Triathlon Oct. 16-18 at St. John’s University School of Law in New York City. The Triathlon is a dispute resolution competition amongst teams from around the country, with 22 in this year’s competition.

The championship team is part of the school’s Negotiation Board, one of three advocacy boards at the law school that competes in external, intercollegiate competitions.

“It’s hard to believe the Board is so young – in four, short years, our organization has gone from a ‘team’ with very few participants, to a national championship winning advocacy board, with dedicated members and impressive faculty support,” said Whitney Griffin, chair of the Negotiation Board and one of the three national championship team members.

“Students selected as members over the course of the past few years have not only been incredibly talented negotiators, but also massively dedicated to our organization.  This major win is directly attributable to those qualities.”

The competition challenges students to negotiate, mediate and arbitrate and offers them an opportunity to hone their skills in a realistic securities dispute setting.  According to the competition, students played the roles of attorneys and clients, with some teams in the role of investor and others in the role of broker-dealer.

“This was a special win because the competition tests participants’ limits by running them through a gauntlet of separate negotiation, mediation and arbitration rounds with actual Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitrators,” said Mercer Bullard, faculty coach and director of the Business Law Institute, which houses the Negotiation Board.

“Our team prevailed because they were willing to invest dozens of hours in detailed preparation.”

Over the course of six weeks, Ole Miss Law’s team practiced at least six times a week. With one week until the triathlon, they began to meet twice a day to fine-tune their presentations.  The team had two coaches, Professor Mercer Bullard, and Chelsea Buckholtz, a third-year UM law student.

“The key to our win was our team’s hard work and preparation,” said Ricky Clifton, team member and third year student. “We spent countless hours preparing, sometimes practicing twice a day, and throughout the competition we were continually praised by the judges for our deep understanding of the issues. But without the help and advice of our faculty and our student coach, that time practicing could never have been as focused on the right issues as it needed to be.”

“The competition was such an incredible experience because it required us to tackle an actual problem present in today’s securities industry and convince actual industry experts and FINRA arbitrators that we were the most effective advocates for our client,” said Dillon King, team member and third-year student.

 “This national championship is a testament to the exceptional quality of the University of Mississippi School of Law, including our faculty and student body.”