VERMILLION, S.D. -- Students from The University of South Dakota School of Law and their adviser were honored at the 34th annual National Trial Competition in San Antonio, Texas, recently.
USD's team of second-year law students Lisa Slepnikoff of Rapid City, S.D., Alex Hagen of Brandon, S.D., and McLean Thompson of Pierre, S.D., received medals and certificates for competing in the 28-team national tournament. Professor Robert Ulrich, who served as coach and adviser to the USD team, also received special recognition at a banquet and awards ceremony following the tourney’s final round. In addition to being honored for 24 years of service to students as well as involvement in the national competition, Ulrich was honored with a lengthy, standing ovation from those in attendance. He announced his plans to retire this summer.
Every ABA-approved (accredited) law school in the country is invited to compete in this annual competition. The top two teams from each of the 14 regional tournaments advanced to the championship rounds in San Antonio. The three USD students qualified for last weekend’s national tourney after finishing in the top two of their nine-state regional in Eugene, Ore.
"I am extremely proud of our students, who represent the Law School so well and, of course, we are especially proud of the extraordinary work of Professor Ulrich for more than two decades," said Dean of the USD School of Law Barry R. Vickrey. "We are proud to have had Alex, McLean, and Lisa represent us, both in Oregon and in advancing to the national tournament in San Antonio. We also appreciate those professors and lawyers who volunteer to assist with advising and coaching student teams, and Bob Ulrich for his work in helping many, many students become great trial lawyers. I am delighted that he was so appropriately recognized at the national banquet."
Established in 1975, the National Trial Competition is one of the oldest and most prestigious mock trial competitions in the United States. The National Trial Competition is co-sponsored by the American College of Trial Lawyers and the Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) and was established to encourage and strengthen students’ advocacy skills through quality competition and valuable interaction with members of the bench and bar, according to the TYLA Web site. The program is designed to expose law students to the nature of trial practice and to serve as a supplement to their education.