Christine Baughman and Audrey Johnson from the University of Nebraska College of Law are the national champions of the ABA Law Student Division’s 2011–12 Client Counseling Competition held March 16–17 at North Carolina Central School of Law in Durham, North Carolina.
There were 137 teams from 91 ABA-approved law schools across the country that competed in 12 regional competitions in February. This year’s competition focused on legal issues arising in a K–12 educational setting and required students to counsel clients facing a wide variety of employment, contract, and discrimination problems. Each team was judged on its ability to interview and counsel a prospective client. For the final round, the teams consoled an angry father as he ranted about his high school daughter’s right to privacy. They carefully walked the client through the attorney-client privilege, fee arrangements, nonlegal courses of action, and strengths and weaknesses of any potential claims.
The teams were also given feedback to improve their future performance, both in the competition and in their careers after law school. Twelve teams from the regional competitions advanced to the national competition and competed for one of three spots in the Championship Round. After three preliminary rounds and one semifinal round, three teams remained to compete in the National Championship Round: DePaul University College of Law, University of Nebraska College of Law, and University of Wyoming College of Law.
Baughman reflects that the competition was a “great opportunity—it provides a very practical experience that tests your ability to think on your feet. When you do it repeatedly, you develop mechanisms that help you explain your thoughts clearly and concisely.” Her teammate, Johnson, says that throughout the competition, she noticed that “legal analysis skills really develop in a manner that I’ll be able to use in practice.”
Kyle Alexander Ridgeway and Marci Crank from the University of Wyoming College of Law took second place and Brandon Baseman and Zaria Udeh from DePaul University College of Law took third.
This year, the ABA Law Student Division provided a $500 award for each member of the National Champion team, $250 for each member of the second-place team, and $150 for each member of the third-place team. All final-round teams also received a collection of legal texts. The members of the National Championship team advanced to the International Client Consultation Competition held in Dublin, Ireland in March.