North Carolina mediators sweep Abrams Competition

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Abrams Comp Winner
Leah Leone and advocacy team members Garrett Gibson
and Frank Carroll, who won the Tom Newhouse Mediation
Competition, posed with competition judges the Hon. Frank
Evans, Jeffry Abrams, and Tom Newhouse.

Leah Leone of the North Carolina Central University School of Law has taken the top honor at the Jeffry S. Abrams National Mediation Competition, held Nov. 11-12 at the University of Houston Law Center. As the winner, Leone received the Frank Evans Mediator Scholarship award, valued at $2,000.

“This has been an amazing experience for me,” Leone said. “From start to finish, the competition has taught me so much. The insight I gained and the lessons I have learned here in the great state of Texas from my competitors and all the judges has been invaluable.”

Presented by the Blakely Advocacy Institute and sponsored by distinguished Houston mediator and UH Law Center alumnus Jeffry S. Abrams, the competition allowed top law students nationwide to put their mediation skills to the test before a team of judges.

“The competition went very well,” said Jim Lawrence, Blakely Advocacy Institute Director. “There were 11 student mediators and the national reach of the competition was evidenced by the fact that students from California (UC-Hastings) to New York (St. John’s) were in attendance. The competitors, and coaches, were high in their praise of the competition, stating that the opportunity to learn from experienced mediators (as judges) in the competition context was one of the best experiences of their law school career.”

"The Jeffry S. Abrams Competition provides such a unique benefit for law students interested in mediation as it is the only law school sponsored competition that allows students to compete as the actual mediator,” said Professor Tasha Willis, ADR director of the UH Law Center. “Traditionally, law school competitions have only afforded law students the opportunity to compete as advocates in mediation. I believe there is great educational benefit providing an opportunity law students compete as mediators and advocates in mediation."

The final rounds saw Leone and Valoree Hanson, a student mediator also from the North Carolina Central University School of Law, being judged by Abrams; Tom Newhouse, University of Houston Law Center Professor emeritus; and the Hon. Frank Evans, generally recognized as the father of ADR in Texas. NCCU School of Law Professor Mark Morris was Leone’s and Hanson’s coach. Leone and Hanson came in a respective first and second place in the competition. Henson received the Jeffry S. Abrams Mediator Scholarship Award, which is valued at $500.

UH Law Center students presently do not compete in the Abrams competition.

The Abrams competition is designed to run in parallel with the Law Center’s Tom Newhouse Mediation Competition, which is one of five intramural competitions sponsored by the Law Center’s Advocates Student Organization.  In the Newhouse competition, UH Law Center students participate as advocate/client in mediation. These intramural participants serve as the parties to the mediation rounds for the national competition.

 Abrams Comp Winner  Abrams Comp Winner
Leah Leone and Jeffry S. Abrams The final round of the Abrams National Mediation Competition and the Tom Newhouse Mediation Competition took place at the UH Law Center on Nov. 12.

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