Team Wins Mock Arbitration Competition

ATLANTA — In its first appearance in the American Bar Association’s Mock Arbitration Competition, Georgia State University College of Law garnered the National Championship in Chicago January 21-22. The team consisted of law students Lisa Bobb, Andrew Hagenbush, Madeleine Peake, and Wes Starrett. Professor Doug Yarn coached.

In the fictional case for arbitration, a former employee for a nursing home company claimed that, under the state whistle-blower’s protection act, he was wrongfully terminated for reporting staffing level violations in the facility he worked. Each side had one hour to present its case to a panel of three arbitrators. In November, the team emerged out of 16 teams in the regional competition as a finalist together with Chase Law School / Northern Kentucky.

The national competition was held at the headquarters of the ABA. Twelve teams, two finalists from each regional competition, competed on Friday. On Saturday morning, four remaining teams paired off. With Bobb and Hagenbush serving as advocates for the claimant and Peake and Starrett as witnesses, Georgia State prevailed over an excellent Stetson team, while Chase Law School (Northern Kentucky) defeated Fordham.

Ironically, as the finalists from the same region, Chase and Georgia State had faced each other in November. After winning a coin toss, the GSU team elected to change representation for the final round, with Peake and Starrett serving as advocates for the respondent company and Bobb and Hagenbush as witnesses. The arbitrators awarded GSU the sixth national championship for this annual ABA competition. The team received a trophy, individual certificates, a set of ABA publications, and $1,000. The ABA filmed the final and will produce it as a DVD.

From the first practice, Yarn said, he knew this team could go all the way because of their evident professionalism, comfort level with the law and evidence, ability to adapt and think on their feet, and overall maturity.

“They approached the task as lawyers, not as students acting like lawyers,” Yarn explained. “GSU’s unique student body and program of instruction creates more practice-ready lawyers like the members of this team. As my first coaching experience, I couldn’t be more proud and excited about these young lawyers.”

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