USD School of Law students to compete at NTC finals

VERMILLION, S.D. -- A team of three students from The University of South Dakota School of Law has advanced to the finals in the 34th annual National Trial Competition in San Antonio, Texas, next month.

Competing in the regional championship in Eugene, Ore., last weekend, the USD team of second-year students Lisa Slepnikoff of Rapid City, S.D., Alex Hagen of Brandon, S.D., and McLean Thompson of Pierre, S.D., was one of the top two finishers in the nine state region. 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 advance to the championship rounds, March 25-28.

"The law school is very proud of our teams that competed in the regional trial competition," said Barry R. Vickrey, dean of the USD School of Law. "Professor Bob Ulrich and Adjunct Professor Sid Strange have done a great job of coaching our trial teams, and several members of the practicing bar have volunteered to assist them. The time that students put into preparation has great educational value, and it’s always encouraging to see how well our students stack up against students from other schools."

Established in 1975, the National Trial Competition is one of the oldest and most prestigious mock trial competitions in the United States. The region includes South Dakota, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Twenty-two teams competed in the regional event hosted by the University of Oregon School of Law. Issues in the case for the competition related to criminal conspiracy in an animal abuse case focusing on dog fighting. A team of third-year USD School of Law students, Aaron Roseland of Faulkton, S.D., Adam Hoier of Sioux Falls, S.D., and Meghann Reifenrath of Rock Rapids, Iowa, came within three points of also qualifying for the national finals last weekend. 

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.