Law Student News
University of Pennsylvania is Trial Advocacy Champion
On January 27, 2013, in Dallas, Texas, the Section concluded its Ninth Annual Law Student Trial Advocacy Competition. In a split decision the team from the University of Pennsylvania prevailed over a team from Quinnipiac Law School in Bridgeport. Connecticut. As in the past few years, Judge Bernice Donald served as the judge for the final trial. The teams were vocal in their praise for her constructive advice. Judge Donald also attended the program reception on Saturday evening and spoke to all the participants about the value of membership in the ABA generally, and in the Labor and Employment Section particularly, to their careers and their ability to network.
The preliminary rounds of the competition took place during October and November in eight regional cities: Boston; New York; Washington D.C.; Miami; Chicago; Dallas; Los Angeles and San Francisco. Ninety-eight teams participated in a series of mock trials presenting and defending a claim of age discrimination in employment. The winners in each region included the University of Akron, Northwestern University, South Texas Law School, Golden Gate School of Law, Pepperdine Law School, and St. Thomas University.
As in the past, the case was based on a set of facts that had been litigated previously by a member of the Trial Advocacy Committee. The plaintiff claimed that the articulated basis for her/his discharge from a position as a security guard in a municipal aquarium was pretextual and that the discharge actually occurred because of age discrimination on the part of a new contractor who had assumed control of security for the aquarium. The teams were provided with exhibits and excerpted transcripts modified from the actual deposition testimony. (Photo caption: Winners of the Section's Ninth Annual Law Student Trial Advocacy Competition, the team from the University of Pennsylvania, pose with the Honorable Bernice B. Donald.)
The hosts for the Dallas finals were regional co-chairs Yona Rozen and Ed Berbarie who recruited volunteers to serve as judges and evaluators, and, with the excellent assistance of the Section staff, arranged a lovely reception on Saturday night at the Adolphus Hotel and generally made everyone feel most welcome.
The national co-chairs of the advocacy competition already are looking toward our Tenth Anniversary program in the fall. What began as a competition among four law schools in Washington, D.C. is now one of the Section's most ambitious undertakings and one that is enthusiastically received by the law school community. The competition cannot go forward without a great deal of input from section members. The opening rounds of the competition called upon more than 500 evaluators and judges in the eight regional cities who spent half a day or more at the program itself. Work will begin shortly on a new case file and the committee is looking for a fact pattern and materials on which to base that file. The specific dates for each of the programs should be decided within the next 90 days and information concerning the program should be available on the Section website.
This article was prepared for the section by Debra Millenson on behalf of the Trial Advocacy/Moot Court Competition Committee. Ms. Millenson is the employer/management co-chair of the committee and principal of The Millenson Law Firm in Washington, D.C.
Productive Networking Tips: A Few Universal Truths
Prior to the ABA Section of Labor & Employment Law's 6th Annual Labor & Employment Conference, the Outreach to Law Students Task Force issued the following mentoring notes to the law student Conference attendees to provide networking insight. The Task Force believes these notes are applicable to all types of networking events--from multi-day conferences to social receptions--and has republished them here with the hope that they will help to continue promoting productive networking going forward.
- Study the Conference Schedule and Identify Three Speakers Whom You Will Meet. When choosing programs to attend, take time to do internet research about the speakers for each program. Identify at least three speakers whose legal practice is of interest to you. Make it a point to go up to these speakers after their program to introduce yourself and see what ideas they might have on how you break into the field.
- Review the Conference Attendee Roster and Identify 10 Attorneys You Will Seek Out. To ensure your networking efforts are focused outside of the programs, identify at least 10 attorneys whose legal practice is of interest to you--make certain you find a way to meet them.
- Identify Trending Topics in Labor & Employment. The Conference schedule will clue you into the hot topics labor & employment practitioners are facing today. Take time to research a few of the topics to give you talking points when engaging in conversations with attorneys throughout the conference. It is easier to engage in meaningful conversation if you have a substantive interest in labor & employment law.
- Meet the Event Chairs/Organizers. Make it a point to meet the event hosts/organizers, and any other group leaders attending the event, such as the Chair of the Section of Labor & Employment Law or Chair of whichever substantive practice area committee that interests you. Thank them for coordinating the event. If interested, ask them about opportunities--even informal--to get involved in the group such as helping to plan future events.
- Have Three to Five Questions to be Answered at the Conference. Identify three to five questions--whether about labor & employment law, career tips, or law student course selections--that you will seek to have answered in your conversations with attorneys throughout the Conference.
- Follow up! Make sure to collect cards and send follow-up e-mails to the attorneys you meet. Be sure to identify something memorable about your conversation and find ways to stay connected with the attorneys you meet at the Conference.
This article was prepared on behalf of Outreach to Law Students Task Force by Natalie Norfus, Employer Chair, and Lindsy Lee, Public/Neutral Chair. Ms. Norfus represents employers at Jackson Lewis LLP in Miami, FL, and Ms. Lee is an attorney at the U.S. Department of Labor offices in Washington, D.C.
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