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Drake mock trial team advances to national finals

March 17, 2008

A
Drake University Law School mock trial team swept the regional round of the
American Association of Justice (AAJ)2008 Student Trial Advocacy Competition
recently held in Denver.

The
team defeated teams from Creighton University, the University of Denver,
Marquette University and Oklahoma City University.

From April 4-6, the Drake team will compete in the national
finals in West Palm Beach, Fla. The law students will argue the plaintiff and
the defendant side of the same case that was presented in the regional
competition. The case involves a widower representing
his wife's estate in a medical malpractice action against a family
practitioner.

"It's been an outstanding group to work with,"
said team coach Matthew Eslick, LW'05, attorney with Nyemaster, Goode, West,
Hansell and O'Brien law firm in Des Moines. 

"I'm
exceptionally proud of their achievement. It's not easy to win a region, and
the fact that they did it is remarkable. We're really looking forward to
competing in Florida," he added.

Eslick
has an extensive background in mock trial. He began competing in middle school
and continued through his education at Drake Law School. This is his third year
coaching this team with Kurt Van Thomme, LW'05, attorney with McKee, Voorhees
and Sease PLC law firm in Des Moines. 

The
team consists of second-year law students Amanda Brookhyser, Meggan Guns and
Todd Smith and third-year law student Patrick McElyea.

"It was terrific to have been
so successful," Smith said. "Not only is it an accomplishment for the
team, but for Drake as well. It is wonderful to be able to contribute to the
university's long-held prestige.

"It is very exciting to look
forward to the national tournament. As with the regional, it is a unique
opportunity to witness and perform one of the more exciting aspects of the
legal profession," he added.

In
addition, a second Drake team of Amanda James, Lynzey Tharp, Peter Larkin and
Tim Carey competed in the regional round held in Chicago. They faced teams
including the defending national runner up, and were defeated before making it
to the semifinals.

To
prepare for the competition, students prepare the plaintiff and defense
arguments, go through three preliminary rounds and continue to compete in
single elimination semifinal rounds to the final round.

"We usually practiced three times a week and got
together in pairs on our own I for about 20 hours per week," said
McElyea. "We did a lot of repetition and prepared to anticipate
changes." 

When asked about the next competition, McElyea said,
"I think this time around we know where some hang ups might be and we will
work on those trouble areas. The trick will be to make sure our strong
parts stay strong."

Once
the teams win the final round, they advance to the national tournament. There
are 14 regional winners competing in the national tournament and the top eight
teams advance to a single elimination round to determine the national winner.

Funding
for both AAJ Mock Trial Teams was made possible by the sponsorship of the law
firm of Galligan, Doyle and Reid PC in Des Moines.