Second-year students Chloe Chiles and Toni Woods won the ECVC Transactional Law Competition at the University of Virginia School of Law on Feb. 23.

The competition, sponsored by the student-led Virginia Law Emerging Companies and Venture Capital Society, assigned pairs of students as either the buyer or seller for a proposed merger agreement. Chiles and Woods’ transaction involved a negotiation of a merger between two emerging technology companies. The companies’ complementary technologies had the capability to create a product with great commercial potential, and a group of venture investors had indicated an interest in financing the new entity if a successful combination could be completed.

Chiles said they approached the negotiation with a problem-solving mindset and focused on finding mutually beneficial solutions that addressed the interests and concerns of both parties.

“We wanted to avoid making unilateral concessions and worked to devise solutions where both of our parties would walk away feeling like they had gained something,” she added. “Negotiation is also a very dynamic process, so I think being able to think on our feet and adapt our strategy in real-time based on new information or changes in circumstances was key for us.”

Transactional Law Competition participants
Participants included Matthew Molinsky ’25 (third place), Transactional Law Competition Chair Rob Podmore ’25, Nick Paruta ’25 (third place), ECVC President Shri Dayanandan ’24, Toni Woods (first place), Daniel Dubelman ’08 of Massumi + Consoli, Chloe Chiles ’25 (first place), Mike Barton ’25 (second place) and David Reed ’25 (second place).

Designed to test the negotiating skills of participating UVA Law students, the competition began over winter break, when organizers released a packet of information about clients, possible agreements, the context of the negotiation and other resources. Competitors then drafted a “term sheet” — a nonbinding agreement showing their preferred terms and conditions — to trade with their opposing counsel in January. Two weeks after exchanging agreements, the students participated in a final round of mock negotiations judged by a panel of experts. This year’s competition drew 58 participants.

ECVC partnered with the law firm Massumi + Consoli to make the competition an annual event.

Woods said her preparation was years in the making: She earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Columbia University and worked as a legal analyst in Goldman Sachs’ Asset Management Division before law school. At UVA, she said she’s taken transactional law courses whenever possible.

“I am endlessly grateful for and appreciative of all the knowledge, perspective and skills that these experiences and people have instilled in me,” Woods said. “Winning first place in this competition is just one of the opportunities they have afforded me.”

Chiles and Woods have been friends since meeting in the same section as first-year students and serve together on the Virginia Law & Business Review.

“I hope that our win encourages women and people of color to participate more in transactional law and related fields within the Law School and beyond,” Woods said.

ECVC President Sridevi Dayanandan ’24 said she and Transactional Law Competition Chair Rob Podmore ’25 were pleased at the increased number of first-year students, with 36, and women, with 24, who participated in the event compared to the first competition. 

“I really enjoyed my time participating and found it to be such a valuable experience, which is why I was motivated to host the competition again this year as ECVC president,” Dayanandan said.

The competition was financially supported by the law firms Massumi + Consoli, O’Melveny, Goodwin, Pillsbury and Cooley. The winners received a cash prize from Massumi + Consoli.

The firms also provided the expert judges, including several UVA Law alumni: Matthew Schwee ’13 and Edward Sniezek ’16 of Cooley; Haylee Brown ’22, Katherine Maxwell ’16 and Spencer Perkins ’19 of Goodwin; Daniel Dubelman ’08 of Massumi + Consoli; David Makarechian ’93 of O’Melveny; and Steve Ryan ’13, Lewis McCorkle ’16 and Steve Kaplan ’05 of Pillsbury.

In addition to the Transactional Law Competition, UVA Law students also have the opportunity to compete in other experiential learning contests, such as appellate moot court and trial advocacy competitions nationwide.

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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