10th Annual Wayne State Taft Transactional Law Competition

DETROIT — Thirty-eight Wayne State University Law School Students participated in the 10th Annual Wayne State Taft Transactional Law Competition on November 10, 2023, held at the Southfield offices of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP (formerly Jaffe Raitt Heuer and Weiss).

This year’s winners were:  

  • First Place Negotiations (seller’s counsel) – Lena Vushaj and Lydia Dunn  
  • First Place Negotiations (buyer’s counsel) – Erli Metko and Christian Sarafa  
  • First Place Drafting (seller’s counsel) – Alyssa Bellini and Kyle Johnson  
  • First Place Drafting (buyer’s counsel) – Kellan Lee, Chelsea Smith, and Pandora Pando  

The winners will represent the Law School at the spring Wayne State Taft Regional Transactional Law Invitational, where Wayne Law will host 22 law schools from around the United States in a similar competition.

(Left to right) Wayne Law students Timothy Carey, Kyle Johnson, Cole Anderson, Lena Vushaj, Alyssa Bellini, Lydia Dunn, Christian Sarafa, Erli Metko, Fatima Elzhenni, Pandora Pando, Brandon Gammo, Chelsea Smith, Kellan Lee, and Taft Attorney Justin Hanna.

This innovative, live-round competition is part of a one-credit course created and supervised by Professor Eric Zacks. The Wayne State Taft Transactional Law Competition helps students develop drafting, negotiating, and counseling skills, with two-member teams representing a buyer and seller involved in a complex acquisition. After a semester of drafting and revising, the negotiations brought the teams together for two rounds of competition. The panel of judges – composed of practicing transactional attorneys – offered feedback following the completion of each round.

Past winners and third-year students Connor Schram, Camran Astani, Ameera Hashwi, and Danny Harwood served as the chairpersons of this year’s competition. The program is supported by the Taft Transactional Law Competition Fund, established in 2018 by Taft.

“We are proud to support the Taft Transactional Law Competition and the resulting growth and development of business-minded law graduates from Wayne Law," Alumnus, Taft attorney, and co-founder of the program Justin Hanna said. "The eager and reliable judging support from experienced M&A lawyers from Michigan law firms, including Taft, underscores the practice’s appreciation for practical experience and the education provided to the students as a result of participating in the competition. Professor Eric Zacks and the student chairs continue to improve and expand the impact of the competition on the training and maturation of Wayne’s students, and the competition helps to advance and enhance the competitive quality of Wayne's business law graduates both regionally and nationally."

Attorneys serving as judges were (* Wayne Law Alumni):  

  • Brian Balow | Balow Law PLLC  
  • Chris Banerian* ’14 | WorkForce Software  
  • Josh Borson* ’13 | Taft  
  • Marguerite Donahue* ’87 | Taft  
  • Will Friedman | Taft  
  • Danielle Graceffa* ’06 | Invest Detroit  
  • Justin Hanna* ’15 | Taft  
  • Arius Harper* ’15 | Ally  
  • Thomas Kelly | Thomas J. Kelly Law PLLC  
  • Ryan Mardini | Taft  
  • Steve Migliore* ’08 | Honigman  
  • Chris Moceri | Taft  
  • Kelsey Postema* ’21 | Wolfson Bolton  
  • Adomas Rauckis* ’19 | Taft  
  • Ahmad Sabbagh* ’19 | Honigman  
  • Peter Sugar* ’70 | Taft  

“Taft’s generous support is instrumental to the continued success of this program,” Professor Zacks said. “Justin Hanna and I started the competition over ten years ago, and I could not be more proud of how it has developed. We are as always grateful to all of our volunteer judges for their time and the valuable feedback they provide training the next generation of transactional lawyers through this program.” 

Photos from the competition can be viewed here.


Contact: Jennifer Kennedy

Phone: 313-577-4629

Email: Jennifer.kennedy2@wayne.edu

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