Law competition teaches valuable exercise

The third annual Center for Student Advocacy Society Client Counseling Competition was held at Salmon P. Chase College of Law Sept. 22. This was an internal competition where law students were critiqued on their ability to interact with clients. The students were judged by a panel of experts who volunteered their time to help students improve client interview skills.

The competition utilized actors to test the consultation and interview skills of the law students. A panel of three judges scrutinized each student’s interview from the moment they met with their client during a mock consultation meeting.

Actors told students their child had been taken out of school and started home school due to bullying. The child was in fifth grade when he began home schooling and the parents were now having trouble getting the school to allow him to enter the sixth grade because he had not taken the correct placement tests. The parents argued he had completed the work so he should be allowed to enter the sixth grade without having to take the placement tests.

The students were judged on several aspects of their interview, including body language, speech and attention given to the client.

Each judge gave the students feedback and helpful tips after the interview was completed. Lawyer Vincent Thomas was one of the three judges who volunteered their time to participate in the competition.

“It comes from a little bit of selfishness,” Thomas said. “I want to see good attorneys out there. I want to see them learn the law, not from the TV but from the practical. The law and the client come first.”

First place winner Howard Markowitz said the competition gave the participants a valuable exercise in public speaking in a professional atmosphere.

Markowitz, who plans to go into medical malpractice defense, and was a doctor of orthopedic surgery before attending law school, said he has really enjoyed his time at Chase, even though he said it is a little harder than he expected it would be.

Second place winner Paige Rabe, a 1L (first year) law student and local Jimmy John’s franchisee, stressed how well the program was organized.

“The staff just does a phenomenal job of giving us programs that help us grow as students,” Rabe said.
A major force behind the organization of the competition was 3L law student Kelly Haren, chair of the Client Counseling Competition.

This was the first year faculty was given an opportunity to give guidance during the planning stages through a partnership with the Center for Excellence and Advocacy.