Law Students Compete by Counseling Clients

Posted: January 24, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Jessica Schweer

Mr. Davis is afraid he is going to lose his job. Davis has been sleeping with his boss, but when he tried to break up with her, she threatened to expose Davis’ addiction to Zantac. Davis suspects that revealing his addiction will not only cost him his job, but may cost him custody of his children, as he is recently separated from his wife.

Last Saturday morning, 24 George Mason School of Law students met Mr. Davis, a hypothetical client, as part of the annual Client Counseling Competition. The topic of this year’s competition, hosted by the Law School’s Trial Advocacy Association, was “Employers and Employees.”

The competitors, organized into 12 two-person teams, received a brief description of the client’s problem and then proceeded to interview the client and conduct a post-consultation meeting with one another. During the client interview, the teams questioned the client to draw out relevant information and then advised the client on possible legal strategies. During the postconsultation meeting, the team discussed their legal strategy and how to proceed with the client’s case. Judges observed both the client interview and postconsultation meeting and evaluated the students.

The judges selected two teams, Elizabeth Bradshaw and Alexis Conway and Derek Bottcher and Hugh Rosen, to advance to the Client Counseling Regional Round on Feb. 11 in Richmond. Last year, a Law School team won second place at the regional competition.

Winners of Law School competition
The two champion teams (left to right), Derek Bottcher and Hugh Rosen and Alexis Conway and Elizabeth Bradshaw, will move on to the Regional Client Counseling Competition.
Photo by Jeff Burtka

Joanna Faust, president of the Trial Advocacy Association, said the competitors were judged on many skills. “Legal research is important, but more important is the way students interact with the client, drawing him or her out about the sensitive issue they have and suggesting solutions, both legal and nonlegal,” she said.

Faust added, “Every judge I talked to told me how glad they were to see the students in such a competition and to know we were stressing these types of skills at school.”

Local practitioners, including Robert Overbey (JD ’97), Mary White (JD ’04), Robert Lamborn (JD ’05) and Dave Warrington (JD ’05), served as judges.

The Client Counseling Competition is sponsored by the American Bar Association (ABA). The winner of the regional round will go on to the national competition, hosted by the ABA in March.

This article appeared in a slightly different form in The Docket.

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