One weekend, two national championship appearances04/11/2016
From left are Nicolette Drotos, David Wolfram, Vince Michalec and Brian Kellogg.
The first weekend of April was a tribute to the excellence of lawyering skills teams at The University of Akron School of Law. After winning their respective regional competitions, two Akron Law teams represented the law school in the national finals of two competitions.
Third place in the nation
At the American Bar Association’s Student Client Counseling Competition National Finals, the Akron Law team of Nicolette Drotos (part-time 2L student) and David Wolfram (part-time 2L student) finished third place in the nation. The national finals took place at Baylor University Law School in Waco, Texas, April 1-2, and involved the 12 regional champions from around the country, including teams from New York, Texas, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Georgia, Iowa, Nevada and Ohio. It is estimated that more than 1,000 teams competed in the intraschool, regional and national competitions.
After the Akron Law team competed in three preliminary rounds on April 1, the national finalist field was narrowed to six teams competing head-to-head in the semifinal round. The Drotos/Wolfram team found itself in a three-way tie for second place. After prevailing in the semifinal round, Akron Law competed against a team from the University of Illinois and Albany Law School in the final round, and emerged with a third place finish.
Drotos and Wolfram won the regional competition, held Feb. 12-13, in Lansing, Mich. The competition topic this year is criminal law and criminal procedure. Also competing in the regional finals was the Akron Law team of Brian Kellogg and Vince Michalec (full-time 1L student). This Akron Law team finished third place in the region.
The client counseling competition enables students to develop interviewing, analytical and problem-solving skills in the context of an initial client interview. The competition simulates a law office setting, with two student attorneys acting out a scene with one client in front of a panel of three judges. The student attorneys are evaluated on the professionalism, teamwork, communication and interpersonal skills required to represent clients, issue spotting, fact-finding and other factors.
In New Orleans, UA's regional champion trial advocacy team competed in the national finals of the American Association for Justice (AAJ) Mock Trial Competition from March 31 to April 2. The Akron Law team, consisting of advocates, Ian Chaves (3L) and Lee Grosscup (2L), and witness Aaron Miekle, advanced to the quarterfinals of this national championship competition, where the team was narrowly defeated in a split decision. This team won the regional championship on March 13. The Akron Law team of Kenton Steele and Jacob Nicholas made it into the semifinal round of the regional championships. Their witnesses were Andres Diaz and Rebecca Schreiner. The trial team is coached by Akron Law alumni Larry Sutter ’89, Kevin Kita ’11, Tony Wise ’13 and Joe Darwal ’14.
Excelling on a national scale
Having two teams compete in the national championships of two different lawyering skills competitions on the same weekend is quite the feat for a single law school, notes Dean Matthew J. Wilson.
“This outstanding achievement exemplifies the skills development and travel opportunities available to Akron Law students,” says Wilson.Having personally coached Akron Law’s client counseling competition teams, Wilson adds that the students “should be applauded for their diligent preparation, investment of time to practice and strong showing.”