Baylor Law School Wins ABA Client Counseling Regional Competition, Qualifies for National Tournament

Feb. 17, 2011

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The Baylor Law School team of Brittany Johnson and Paul Green won the ABA Regional Client Counseling Competition, which automatically qualifies them for the National Competition in Norman, Okla., in March.

The Baylor team, which was seeded No. 1 following preliminary rounds, is coached by Waco attorney and adjunct professor Vik Deivanayagam. Will King and Lauren Sepulveda served as student coaches. The regional tournament was held at the University of Wyoming Feb. 12-13.

"At Baylor Law, we stress to our students that the profession of law is one of service to others. This win is quite gratifying because client counseling is so focused upon the personal connection a lawyer forms with his or her client and how that client might be best served by our justice system," said Baylor Law Dean Brad Toben.

In winning the tournament, Johnson and Green beat out the teams from the University of Wyoming and the University of Houston in the final round. A second Baylor team of Craig Stango and Michelle Hanlon made the break of the top six teams, but lost in the semi-final round.

Client counseling competitions simulate the initial meetings between attorneys and potential clients. Competitors are judged on their ability to establish a rapport with clients, their method in gathering facts of a case, their discussion of ethical issues and legal fees, and other related questions that arise between attorneys and clients. This year's competition focused on areas of professional responsibility and professional ethics. However, each round consisted of a different ethical/responsibility issue that teams had to uncover.

"Basically, the team is given a one-sentence memo and the team members are supposed to dig out the information. In fact, the 'client' is instructed to hold back some facts to see how effective the students are at uncovering what they need to know," Deivanayagam said. "The idea of client counseling competition is to help students develop the skills needed to deal with people on a personal level."

"I enjoy the competition because it gives you a feel for the real world," Green said. "You aren't memorizing a script, but reacting and interacting with the client. It is just a fun competition. You are just having a conversation and following up on possible issues spotted throughout the conversation."

Contact: Julie Carlson, Baylor Law School, (254) 710-6681

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