Professor Catherine Stahl, Director of the College of Law’s Trial Advocacy Program arranged a stellar learning experience in Chicago spanning the private and public sectors of legal practice for trial team members Kristina Modesto ’19, Kaitlin Phillips ’19, Sam Rabuck ’19, and Tony Santella ’19. The weekend began Friday morning, November 3rd in the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis, where the team presented their competition case to College of Law alums Paul Collier ’99, Peter Bartoszek ’08, and Kyle Kantarek ‘15. "This was an invaluable opportunity for the team to connect with leading practitioners. We are incredibly grateful for the gift of time and talent and the incredible feedback Mr. Collier, Mr. Bartoszek, and Mr. Kantarek shared with our students," stated Professor Stahl.
In the afternoon, another Illinois alum and founding member of the College of Law’s trial team, Judge Katherine Kern ‘01, Administrative Judge, Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), hosted the team for a tour of her courtroom. Professor Stahl remarked, "We extend many thanks to Judge Kern for meeting with the Illini team. Her comments about the trajectory of her career from trial team to the bench were very instructive for the students and her pointers for the trial team and the preview of the courthouse competition venue were greatly appreciated."
Naturally, the highlight of the weekend was the team’s participation in the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law’s 14th Annual Law School Trial Advocacy Competition, advancing to the top four in a field of fourteen teams. This competition was an amazing opportunity for these first time competitors to sharpen their skills. In the semifinal round, the team argued a religious discrimination case before Judge Matthew Kennelly (N.D. IL). It was both an honor and a tremendous opportunity to argue a case before a sitting federal judge.
Team members combined their talents and work ethic with direction from their coach Elisabeth Pollock ‘06, Assistant Federal Defender, Federal Defender’s Office for the Central District of Illinois. Special assistance was provided by Professor Catherine Stahl (Director of the College’s Trial Advocacy Program), Judge Kate Kern ’01 (Administrative Judge, MSPB), Paul Collier ’99 (Partner, Kirkland & Ellis), Peter Bartoszek ’08 (Partner, Kirkland & Ellis), Kyle Kantarek ’15 (Associate, Kirkland & Ellis), Professor Eric Johnson (Associate Dean for Academic Affairs), Audrey Thompson ’17 (Associate, Beckett & Webber), and Matt Goldman ’17 (Assistant Public Defender).