Law school students win national competition

By Tom Chadar

Two NIU Law School students have won a national competition and placed second in the National Finals of the American Bar Association’s Client Counseling Competition in Durham, N.C.

Tara Fetherling and Carol Hafferkamp competed with students from about 100 law schools nationwide in the annual competition.

Students from several midwestern states competed in the regional round. Participating Illinois schools included John Marshall University and Northwestern University.

The two winners from NIU are the only students from Illinois to win.

The competition involved interviewing and counseling clients in specific areas of substantive law. This year the area was employment discrimination.

“We were not really known for specializing in the field of employment discrimination,” Fetherling said. “But now NIU may become known for this.”

The American Bar Association devises problems to be resolved in the competition. “They have actors who act as clients in a 30-minute counseling session. The competition is designed to find out how good you are and to get as much of the client’s problem as possible,” she said.

Fetherling and Hafferkamp’s “success is due to hard work, to a very good knowledge of the law and to their individual skills as interviewers and counselors,” NIU law professor David Taylor, faculty advisor to the team, said in a prepared statement.

“They did an outstanding job (and) were complimented throughout the competition on their professionalism and their skills,” Hafferkamp said.

The key to success “was not only an individual effort of Fetherling and myself,” Hafferkamp said. “It was kind of a group effort. Professor Taylor has spent a lot of hours practicing with us, and all the other faculty had helped.

“I know a lot of students there that didn’t even have coaches back at the schools where they came from,” she said.

The history of the American Bar Association competition dates back as far as 1969.