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New England Law | Boston Students Advance to National ABA Client Counseling Competition

Kayla Pulliam and Alison Sexson credit their unique backgrounds and chemistry as a team for their success at Regionals, securing a spot at Nationals this year. 

 

Published Friday, February 26, 2021

Kayla Pulliam and Alison Sexson, 2L students at New England Law | Boston, will compete in the National American Bar Association Law Student Division Client Counseling Competition March 18-20, 2021.

The competition tests participants on fundamental skills necessary for all successful attorneys, including interviewing, counseling, and supporting a client through their legal issue. 

“As lawyers, we are first and foremost problem solvers, and the process of helping clients achieve their goals begins with effective communication,” said New England Law Professor Nicole Noël, who co-coached this year’s competition with Associate Dean Lisa Freudenheim. “We focus on teaching our students how to be practice-ready, and the Client Counseling Competition is an excellent way to develop and hone these critical skills. Alison and Kayla competed at Regionals last year as 1Ls, so they are delighted to be moving on to Nationals this year. They’re a great team, and we’re so proud of them!” 

This is the fourth Regionals win in the last six years for New England Law. Other winning teams include Brian Edmonds and Nicholas Babaian (2020), Elizabeth O'Neill and Luella Wong (2018), and Aimee Parco and Melissa O'Mara (2016). 

3L evening students Rex McKeon and Abe Bakkal also made it to the Regional semi-finals this year and the two New England Law teams ended up competing directly against each other in an unexpected turn of events. Pulliam and Sexson ultimately outscored their classmates and 10 other teams from schools including Boston College, Marquette University, St. Mary's Texas, UC Hastings and University of Houston. 

When asked what gives them an edge, Pulliam and Sexson said: 

  • Their backgrounds as educators,
  • Their chemistry working together as a team, and
  • Their ability to shift and adapt quickly. 

The duo met their first semester in a meeting for the Charles Hamilton Houston Enrichment Program and knew almost immediately they would have a great work dynamic. 

“Being able to switch how you communicate based on who you’re communicating with is a strong suit for us,” said Pulliam. “We’re comfortable breaking down legalese and if we forget, we’re good at picking up each other’s fumbles to run it in for a touchdown.” Sexson added, “We’re both empaths, so we focus on each other and the client. Even through Zoom, which has really tested our skills, we know we can do it.” 

Kayla Pulliam started her career as a special education teacher, and hopes to use her law degree to fight the many injustices she saw every day happening to students and parents. Alison Sexson comes from five generations of educators and was a substitute teacher herself before coming to law school. Her ultimate goal is to become an advocate for children. 

Regardless of the outcome at Nationals, Pulliam and Sexson have already decided they will not compete next year. They will be utilizing their skills in another way – as coaches! 

 

Current students interested in learning more about this annual competition can contact Associate Dean Lisa Freudenheim.