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Northwestern Trial Teams Compete with Great Success

Law school team to compete for national labor law championship title in January

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November 23, 2011 | by Hilary Hurd Anyaso

CHICAGO --- Three Northwestern University School of Law teams participating in recent trial advocacy competitions have had great success.

All representing the Bartlit Center for Trial Advocacy, the team of Lauren Hillemann (3L), Kilie Latendresse (3L), MJ Sweis (2L) and Andrew Gilbert (2L) captured first place in the Chicago region of the ABA Labor Law Competition Nov. 18 to 20. They now will go on to compete for the national championship in Miami in January.

Another Bartlit Center team, comprised of Mark Duric (3L), Lauren Caisman (2L), Tim Hoppe (3L) and Alexandra Brodman (2L), reached the final four in the same tournament. As it happened, the two Northwestern teams were seeded in the same bracket for the semifinals, so only one could advance to the final round. In combination, Northwestern’s teams defeated teams from the University of Wisconsin, University of Illinois, Washington University, Loyola University-Chicago and Southern Illinois University. Their only loss in the entire tournament was as a result of one Northwestern team defeating the other by a split decision. 

“The key was the balance provided by the third-year leadership from our four returning advocates, in conjunction with our talented and eager second-years,” said Michael Leonard of Meckler Bulger, who coached the team along with Rob Robertson of the Law Offices of Robert Robertson. Northwestern trial team alumni Kendrick Washington, Malorie Medellin and Patrick Emerson assisted in coaching as well.

Second-year students Damien Kieran, Alanna Holt, Lee Lohf and Sharisse Deal reached the final four in the Georgetown White Collar Crime Competition the same weekend. They defeated teams from the University of Virginia, Santa Clara University and Georgetown University before losing in the semifinals to eventual tournament champions George Washington University.  

“I am very fortunate to coach the hardest working, most intelligent and most talented students,” said Richard Levin, who coached the team along with Adam Riback, both of the Levin Riback Law Group.

In October, another Bartlit Center Trial team comprised of third-year students Andrew Crowder, Clare Diegel, Sara Whitaker and Karim Basaria competed in New York at the NITA Tournament of Champions, the most selective invitational competition in the nation. Each of the 16 teams at the tournament had recently won at least one other tournament.

The Northwestern team went undefeated in the preliminary rounds, beating teams from Stanford, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Stetson University and Duquesne University. Northwestern then defeated Loyola University-Chicago in the semifinal before losing by a 3-2 vote to Cumberland Law School in the championship round. In addition to Northwestern’s silver medal, Andrew Crowder was named the tournament’s Outstanding Advocate.

“Our students and coaches put an enormous amount of work into their preparation, and it pays off – just like in real cases,” said Steven Lubet, Williams Memorial Professor of Law and director of the Bartlit Center for Trial Advocacy at Northwestern.