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Kohei Miyamoto

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Arbitration & Negotiation Seminar

Kohei Miyamoto
Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Chuo University
Area of Specialization: Corporate law

About the Arbitration and Negotiation Seminar

The Arbitration and Negotiation Seminar provides specialized exercises available for 3rd and 4th year law students, held by Professor Michiaki Abe of the Chuo Law School and me. The biggest feature of this seminar is setting the goal for students to participate in the extracurricular Intercollegiate Negotiation Competitionnew window.

What is the Intercollegiate Negotiation Competition?

The Intercollegiate Negotiation Competition (INC) is held in late November or early December every year, to provide students with an opportunity to compete in mock negotiations and arbitrations related to international business. There is a two-month period of preparation for the competition. All participating universities prepare intensively for the competition, and it is becoming more competitive each year. Winning a prize has become extremely difficult. The competition is held in two categories, English and Japanese. The English team is also introduced on Chuo University's Go Global websitenew window.

A unique feature of the INC is that the participating students enter into both arbitration and negotiation rounds. The mock negotiation round involves negotiating with your opponent as a business person, regarding a hypothetical international business deal. For the mock arbitration, participants act as lawyers in arbitration similar to a lawsuit, stating their case and making counterarguments on a hypothetical dispute between companies. Participating in both of these is extremely valuable as an aspect of education in the Faculty of Law.

What kind of students participate?

Not all the students studying law intend to become practical lawyers, and not all of them are dedicated to taking courses about law. This seminar deals with negotiation, which is a unique area among law seminars. As a result there are many students uninterested in law who attend the seminar. Although there are students who intend to become practical lawyers, their numbers are limited.

This leads to most of the students who are interested in international business focusing on the negotiation category of the INC, and a smaller number interested in becoming practicing lawyers focusing on arbitration. However, all of these students will participate in both the negotiation and arbitration rounds, which provides significant educational benefits.

There is also benefit for the 3rd and 4th year students working together in the seminar.

Off-campus seminar

As mentioned above, the goal of the Arbitration and Negotiation Seminar is to compete in the INC, but that is not the only goal for the off-campus seminar. The Arbitration and Negotiation Seminar holds competitions with other universities competing in the INC. Near the end of June, competitions are held with Sophia University, Gakushuin University and Keio University. During the summer, Osaka University holds a competition that many universities in the Kansai area participate in.

The amount of time necessary to prepare to participate in these competitions puts a large burden on the students. In particular, the Kansai competition is held in the summer, so the students hold voluntarily seminar sessions every day, and there is also the issue of travel costs that must be covered. Nonetheless, many students actively participate in these competitions.

These competitions are a good opportunity for the students to interact with and be inspired by distinguished students from other universities. Making friends with people studying law across the country is also a motivation for the students to spend all the time they do on preparations. Recently, many students have been connecting with each other using SNS and the like after competitions.

Self-starting seminar

With participation in the INC as a goal and the other competitions acting as preparation for the INC, the majority of the time for the Arbitration and Negotiation Seminar is spent on preparing for these competitions. A unique feature of this seminar is that all that preparation is directed by the students.

There is a variety of preparation necessary for the INC. In addition to learning arbitration and negotiation skills, it is also necessary to learn how the subjects being dealt with at the competition are dealt with in the real world. For example, the theme for arbitration last year was a dispute involving the travel industry. This required researching actual travel companies. The negotiation round dealt with negotiations over the development of a new enterprise after a merger. This required studying the rules of corporate law for mergers and how they are handled in practice. Participating students take an active role in preparations, with the professors only giving advice when asked by the students. Communication with other universities to participate in competitions is also handled by the students.

In every aspect, the Arbitration and Negotiation Seminar is led by the students. 3rd year students joining the seminar for the first time learn how to handle things independently from 4th year students with a year of experience in the seminar.

Linking seminar

The preparations necessary for participating in the INC include many things. While the students work hard, there is still a limit to the direction that can be given by two professors. That is why the Arbitration and Negotiation Seminar receives help from Chuo University alumni. Osamu Inoue of Hewlett-Packard Japan, Ltd. is one of those alumninew window, who is introduced in the Chuo University Go Global website. There are many other alumni who also help out with the Arbitration and Negotiation Seminar.

One of the benefits of being instructed by the alumni is seeing how they applied what they learned in university in society. Also, the students can help develop a concept of their own future with the alumni as role models.

By learning from the alumni who studied at Chuo University and are now active in society, the students can benefit in a variety of ways. The results of student efforts are passed on to the next group of students.

Students are also in charge of communicating with the supporting alumni, reflecting the purpose of the student-led seminar.

Expanding seminar

Students who participate in the Arbitration and Negotiation Seminar find a variety of learning opportunities.

Obviously, these include learning persuasive skills for negotiations and legal debate skills for arbitration. Many students who learn negotiation skills plan to engage in international business in the future. Some of the students who learn arbitration skills hope to practice law in the future.

However, these skills are not the only things the students learn from participating in the Arbitration and Negotiation Seminar. In broad terms, acquiring a passion for learning is the greatest benefit of this seminar.

A comment made by a student after participating in the INC last year made an impression on me. That student was not particularly interested in law courses, but after the competition they said “I've become motivated to study law.” Students without much interest in law can realize the value of studying law by experiencing mock arbitrations or negotiations dealing with legal issues. I feel this might be an important hint for how to motivate students in legal education.

Self-motivated learning is also important. In the Arbitration and Negotiation Seminar, all learning is independent. Once someone starts learning independently, they never stop. The Arbitration and Negotiation Seminar gives students the impetus to become independent learners. For students who have begun learning, their potential for worthwhile lives increases.

Kohei Miyamoto
Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Chuo University
Area of Specialization: Corporate law
Kohei Miyamoto is from Kumamoto Prefecture, born in 1980. He graduated from Chuo University Faculty of Law Department of Law in 2004. He joined Chuo University as an assistant in 2005, then an assistant professor, attaining current position in 2008. His current research topic is the management structure of business corporations. In particular, he is examining the liability for damages of CEOs of corporations. Main papers include “Corporate Director’s Duty of Care and Business Judgment Rule” (Hougaku Shinpo) and “Onus for Operating Decisions by Officers in American Law” (Future of Comparative Study in Law).