Student Advocacy Board established at Elon Law

Created in the fall of 2010, the Student Advocacy Board enables Elon Law students to strengthen trial advocacy skills through participation in annual competitions that draw students from law schools across the country. Members of the Board organize into trial teams, receive coaching from Elon Law professors and accomplished trial attorneys, and compete in multi-day national advocacy competitions.

The new Student Advocacy Board at Elon Law is comprised of 26 students, including, from left: Ryan Spencer, Ashley Smith, Karima Grady, Mathew Schantz, Laura Lee Howell, Simon O’Brien, Catherine Hallman, David Stephens, Megan Youngblood, Christopher Cleaveland, Gwendolyn Lewis, Robert Garner, Molly Daniel-Springs, and Leslie Sherrill.

In the spring of 2011 members of the Student Advocacy Board represented Elon Law for the first time at the Regional Texas Young Lawyers Division (TYLA) Criminal Trial Team Competition and the American Association of Justice (AAJ) Civil Trial Team Competition.

Elon Law’s team at TYLA was comprised of Christopher Cleaveland, Robert Garner, Laura Lee Howell, and David Stephens. They traveled to the Charlotte School of Law to compete in the regional competition in February, 2010. The AAJ team for Elon Law was comprised of Catherine Hallman, Megan Risen Hitchens, Casey Shillito, and Leslie Sherrill. They traveled to Atlanta, Georgia and competed in the regional competition at the Fulton County Courthouse in March 2010.

The founding members of the Student Advocacy Board at Elon Law are Class of 2011 members Catherine Hallman, Megan Youngblood, Megan Risen Hitchens, David Stephens, Laura Lee Howell, Christopher Cleaveland, Leslie Sherrill, and Casey Shillito, as well as Class of 2012 members Robert Garner and Michael Koeltzow.

On April 15, the Student Advocacy Board welcomed 16 news members who will form the Board for the 2011-2012 academic year with founding members Garner and Koeltzow. New members of the Board are: Molly Daniel, Dustin Gill, Karima Grady, Elizabeth Hebron, Andrew Jones, Gwendolyn Lewis, Austin Morris, Josh Nielsen, Simon O’Brien, Jacob Pryor, Mathew Shantz, Ashley Smith, Jim Stanton, Ryan Spencer, Mark Wilson, and Gabriel Zeller.

Law students Catherine Hallman and Megan Youndblood spearheaded student efforts to form the Student Advocacy Board, researching similar programs and helping to organize a try-out competition at the law school to select the Board’s founding members.

Hallman said she and other founding members were happy to see the program gaining momentum.

“After seeing the new board members I am excited about the prospects we have for next year,” Hallman said. “The addition of this program is going to provide students here at Elon with a unique and exciting opportunity. I am grateful to have been a part of the program’s formation. I look forward to coming back and working with teams in the future!”

Youngblood noted the skills development benefits of the program.

“As a founding member of the Student Advocacy Board, I am proud of the foundations laid this school year and I am excited about the direction in which the program is heading,” Youngblood said. “The Student Advocacy Board affords students an opportunity to develop trial advocacy skills and I am confident that the program will continue to attract some of the best and brightest students at Elon Law.”

Catherine Dunham, associate dean for academic affairs, professor of law, and director of Trial Practice Program at Elon Law, helped to establish the program with Elon Law students and other members of the faculty.

“We were really pleased that students expressed interest in forming a Student Advocacy Board and that we could add this dimension of educational opportunity to what is already a very strong trial practice program at the law school,” Dunham said. “The Student Advocacy Board benefits greatly from the faculty and practicing attorneys who serve as coaches, so I thank them for their service and dedication to our law students.”

Patricia Perkins, assistant professor of legal writing at Elon Law, served as coach of the TYLA team.

“The founding members of the Student Advocacy Board performed exceptionally well at competitions this year and served the law school immeasurably by contributing their time and energy to the formation of this new program at Elon Law,” Perkins said.

Elon Law faculty members Kathleen McCleod, Robert Parrish, Patricia Perkins, and Catherine Wasson, and founding members of the Student Advocacy Board served as judges for the try-out competition in the spring semester.

Trial attorneys serving as coaches for the AAJ teams included Kenneth Rotenstreich of Teague Rotenstreich Stanaland Fox & Holt PLLC and James Roane of Roane Law. Rotenstreich and Roane are adjunct faculty members of trial practice and advocacy at Elon Law.

Elon Law professors Michael Rich and Catherine Wasson, as well as Elon Law’s Lance Burke, Jane Law and Lisa Watson, and Drew Brown, of Benson Brown & Faucher PLLC, supported the TYLA team’s preparations by serving as judges, jurors, and witnesses and providing the team with valuable feedback.

Law students serving as witnesses during the TYLA teams’ preparations were: Kristin Belton, Brett DeWitt, Susan Guffey, Erika Hunter, Chantelle Lytle, Courtney Roller, Chris Wrenn, and Katie Youngblood. 

Catherine Hallman, L’11, contributed reporting for this article.