Lisa Slepnikoff of Rapid City, S.D., and McLean Thompson of Pierre, S.D., third-year law students, qualified for the finals after finishing in the top two of their nine-state regional competition in Salem, Ore. Both Slepnikoff and Thompson were national trial finalists in 2009. Robert Ulrich, a recently retired USD law professor, and attorney Sidney Strange serve as coach and advisers to the USD team – one of 26 National Trial Competition Finalists. Other law schools that will be represented at the national tournament include teams from Yale University, Stanford University, Northwestern University, Villanova University and Syracuse University.

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 in Dallas. A second team of USD law students, Logan Hollers, Ashley Huber and Courtney Stottler – all third-year students in the School of Law, lost in a split decision after advancing to the regional semifinals in Salem.

“I am extremely proud of our students, who represent the Law School so well,” said Dean of the USD School of Law Barry R. Vickrey. “We wish McLean and Lisa all the best as they continue to represent USD and the School of Law in this prestigious event. We also appreciate those professors and lawyers, particularly Bob Ulrich and Sidney Strange, who volunteer to assist with advising and coaching student teams. The success of our students in this competition is truly a total team effort.”

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.

A photo of Thompson and Slepnikoff is available at

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