One of Drake Law’s two ABA Client Counseling teams, comprised of Nate Borland and Katheryn Pearson Thorson, won the Regional rounds of the Client Counseling Competition this weekend in Saint Paul, Minn. Drake’s other team of Maggie White and Ben Neitzel also performed well. All of these students are in their final year of law school.
William Mitchell hosted the Client Counseling Competition for Region 8 which covers law schools in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska. The University of Illinois Law School and Chapman Law School also participated in our Region as out-of-area entrants. In this year’s competition all of the client problems relate to the substantive topic of Employment Law and/or Employment Discrimination.
The students were selected for the Drake teams last November and have been preparing for the competition since early January. The students prepared by conducting practice interview scenarios (provided by the American Bar Association) before coach and Professor Matt Doré and local lawyers who served as volunteer judges. Many law students and staff helped with practices as volunteer clients. Borland and Thorson will represent Drake and Region 8 in the National Final Rounds of the ABA Client Counseling Competition at Baylor Law School on March 22-23.
Twelve Regions across the country are represented at the National Finals so the Drake team is one of the top 12 in the nation. This year marks the third time since 2005 that a Drake Client Counseling team has reached the National Finals rounds of the competition. We last competed there in 2010.
The Client Counseling Competition simulates the initial client interview setting. The students interview a client (an actor provided by the competition host school) and must ask questions to learn the nature of the client’s problem and then help the client think through possible solutions. Each problem is different, and the students do not know the client’s story in advance, so the competition does a great job of replicating a lawyer’s real life experience. To succeed, the students must develop good questioning and listening skills, and must also be well-informed about the governing law in order to analyze the client’s situation and help develop next steps.