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Law School Team Wins Trial Championship

Northwestern Law team captures fourth national title

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April 13, 2011 | by Hilary Hurd Anyaso
(From left) Andrew Crowder, Clare Diegel, Karim Basaria, Coach Adam Riback; Coach Richard Levin

CHICAGO --- A Northwestern University School of Law team won the TYLA National Trial Competition, the oldest and most prestigious law school trial tournament in the United States.

The Northwestern University Bartlit Center for Trial Strategy team – second-year students Clare Diegel and Karim Basaria – won all six rounds at the national finals held in Houston over the weekend. They defeated teams from Yale Law School, St. John’s University School of Law and the University of Texas School of Law in the three preliminary rounds, and qualified for the playoff rounds as the No. 1 seed. 

Northwestern then defeated Wake Forest University School of Law in the quarter finals and Salmon P. Chase College of Law in the semifinals, before facing Chicago-Kent College of Law in an all-Chicago final round. In an extremely close trial, Northwestern won the championship over Chicago-Kent by a final vote of 10-9.

“Karim and Clare were simply phenomenal,” said Northwestern’s head coach Richard Levin, of the Levin Riback Law Group. “They were wonderfully creative, and their hard work paid off.”

Adam Riback and Karen O’Malley, both of the Levin Riback Law Group, and Richard Lakin of Iron Financial, also helped coach the Northwestern team. 

“Rick, Adam, Karen and Rich are exceptional coaches,” said Steven Lubet, the Williams Memorial Professor of Law at Northwestern and director of the Bartlit Center for Trial Strategy. “They bring tremendous integrity and great dedication to the program, and we are fortunate to have them as teachers for our students.”

Said Levin: “It is impossible to say enough good things about Karim and Clare. This might be the first time that any school has won the national championship with a team of only second-year students.” 

Andrew Crowder, also a second-year student, was the team’s first alternate, providing invaluable backup throughout the tournament.

This year’s tournament began with nearly 300 teams competing in 14 regions, with the top 28 teams advancing to Texas. Eight teams survived the three preliminary rounds. Both Northwestern and Chicago-Kent were undefeated going into the final round.

Sponsored by the Texas Young Lawyers Association, this was the fourth TYLA National Trial Championship for Northwestern, having previously won in 1992, 1997 and 2002.  Northwestern teams also made the final four in 2002 (when two Northwestern teams reached the final round) and 2010. 

“This year’s success demonstrates that Chicago is truly the epicenter of trial advocacy education,” Lubet said. “It is almost always the toughest regional, as was obvious from this year’s final round between Northwestern and Chicago-Kent.” 

Four different Chicago-area law schools – Northwestern, Chicago-Kent, Notre Dame and Loyola – have won the TYLA championship a total of 10 times since the tournament began in 1975.