Nathan J. Borland and Katheryn Pearson Thorson, both third year Drake Law students, were named National Champions at the American Bar Association’s National Client Counseling Competition Final Rounds at Baylor University Law School in March. As National Champions, Borland and Thorson were invited to represent the United States in the International Client Consultation Competition at the University of Glasgow, where they faced 22 law school teams from around the world.
Championship teams from twelve regions across the United States competed in the National Final Rounds of the ABA Client Counseling Competition. A total of 138 teams from law schools across the country originally entered the ABA competition earlier this year. Regional competitions held in February determined the teams that competed in the National Finals. After advancing through preliminary and semi-final competition rounds, the Drake team faced Villanova and Samford Law Schools in the final round and was unanimously declared the victor by a three-judge panel.
The Client Counseling Competition simulates the initial client interview setting. 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 him/her develop next steps. In this year’s competition, all of the client problems concerned employment law and/or employment discrimination.
Borland and Thorson were selected for the Drake team last November and have been preparing for the competition since early January. The students prepared by conducting practice interview scenarios before faculty coach Matthew Doré and local lawyers who served as volunteer judges. Many law students and staff helped with these practices as volunteer clients and thus share credit in the team’s success.
This year marks the third time since 2005 that a Drake Client Counseling team has reached the National Finals rounds of the competition, and the first time for a national title.
See more on KCCI’s “Normal law students doing extraordinary things.”