(Boston 2/29/12) New England Law | Boston: New England Law | Boston students garnered high praise from judges on their way to a second-place finish at the regional American Bar Association Client Counseling Competition. The event, held February 10-11, simulated a law office consultation in which law students, acting as attorneys, were presented with a client matter.
The law school’s two, two-person teams included Erin Margolius ’12 and Michael Sheridan ’13, who took second place out of 12 in the region, and Elizabeth Casler ’13 and Sarah Kmieciak ’13. Team alternates included first-year students Sam Altiero ’14, Maura Anderson ’14, Louisa Gibbs ’14, and Andrew Higley ’14.
The students were co-coached by Professor Gary Bishop, director of Legal Research and Writing, and Professor Louis N. Schulze, Jr., director of the Academic Excellence Program. “Both of our teams garnered high praise from their judges and did a terrific job,” notes Professor Schulze. “The Margolius/Sheridan duo defeated strong teams from Boston College, Boston University, Quinnipiac, Suffolk, and the University of New Hampshire. Our alternate teams supported the competition teams well and contributed significantly to their success, helping them practice by serving as clients and by contributing feedback to the teams.”
Competitors interviewed a person playing the role of the client and then explained how they would proceed further in the hypothetical situation. “The competition took place in the context of education law,” explained Professor Schulze, “and the hypotheticals often included challenging issues of federal educational privacy laws, legal issues surrounding special needs education, and employment disputes within schools.”
“The competition gives you a chance to act like a lawyer by applying what you have learned in the classroom to an actual real life experience,” said Sarah Kmieciak ’13. “Initial meetings with clients are a part of every practicing attorney's life, and this competition really gives you a chance to practice these necessary skills.”
Her competition teammate, Elizabeth Casler ’13, agreed. “Participants must strike the proper balance between empathy and business when interacting with the client, and tackling the challenges of each simulation is extremely rewarding. The skills honed in these experiences may be applied in a career after law school, which is especially satisfying.”
First-year student Andrew Higley added, “Oftentimes in first year courses, it is easy to lose sight of one of most important skills of being a successful attorney: interacting and interviewing clients. This competition was great because it focused on developing that skill."