Southwestern Team Wins Arbitration Competition
They came. They argued. They won. Southwestern students achieved great success in their first appearance at the ABA Law Student Division Arbitration Competition in November, winning First Place at the regional competition in Louisiana. The team of Christianne Amodio, Whitney Ching, Donato Clay and Sholom Goodman will compete next in January at the National Finals in Orange, California.
The team worked on a case centering on the current economic crisis that dealt specifically with a grant awarding foundation and a community service organization. The competition required the students to produce opening and closing statements as well as perform direct and cross-examination before an arbitration panel. Derek Knolton (spouse of Professor Cristina Knolton) served as the team's coach.
"Derek's guidance was a key to our success," said Donato Clay, third-year student in the traditional day program. "He provided us with his critique, but allowed us to independently form our arguments and opening/closing statements." He also pointed out, "While this was the first year Southwestern competed in this competition, I believe that there is much potential for this program. Alternative Dispute Resolution has become increasingly important in the practice of law, and granting students an opportunity to practice some of the skills necessary for arbitration proceedings outside of the classroom is extremely beneficial to our success as attorneys."
Practicing regularly several times a week for nearly three months really paid off for the students. "The team was exceptional throughout each round of the competition," said Knolton. "They were witty and made sharp legal arguments. I was especially impressed by the team's ability to think on their feet and incorporate the opposing side's various remarks into their opening and closing statements. The judges were equally impressed [particularly] regarding how well spoken the team members were, how well they used the law, and how well they developed an effective theory of the case. Southwestern made a great first impression at this competition."