Southwestern's Winning Client Counseling Team Headed to National ABA Competition
In February, Southwestern's Negotiation Honors Program (NHP) competed in the regional round of the ABA Client Counseling Competition, which was held in Santa Clara, California. Southwestern was represented by two teams: Nina Dangourian and April Macaraeg, and Rebecca Ghadimi and Yasha Rastegari. Both teams ultimately advanced to the semi-finals of the competition, and April Macaraeg and Nina Dangourian won First Place.
In fact, Southwestern was the only school to have two teams advance to the semi-finals. In the final round, Macaraeg and Dangourian defeated teams from U.C. Hastings and Santa Clara. The team is now headed to Norman, Oklahoma to compete in the ABA National Client Counseling Competition on March 21-22.
Associate Dean Nyree Gray and NHP Chair Nicolas Papajohn coached Southwestern's teams. "Both of the Southwestern teams did an incredible job of thinking quickly on their feet," Dean Gray said. "They effectively gathered all the relevant facts from the client and were able to immediately analyze those facts under the law and provide the client with a clear explanation of the client's strengths and weaknesses, as well as provide the client with options for moving forward."
Macaraeg and Dangourian were thrilled to bring home first place for the school. "It felt amazing because of all the love we received from our teammates back home," they explained. "The win was a team effort and the flood of emails and texts we received confirmed for us that Southwestern really is a second family."
The students are asked to interview a client and gather the relevant facts related to the client's legal problem. The students must then immediately evaluate the client's case under applicable law and provide the client an assessment of their case.
This is a unique competition where students are asked to evaluate a claim on the spot without prior knowledge of the client's legal problem. Southwestern's teams worked for weeks to prepare for the competition. The only information the students were given was that a client was coming in with a First Amendment issue. "Members of the Negotiation Honors Program developed great facts for us to explore and provided us a little bit of everything we could expect from a client with a First Amendment issue, so we were prepared to handle any situation that was presented to us," Macaraeg said.