Law advocates head to national semifinals in virtual ABA National Client Counseling Competition

Photo of two 2020 ABA semi-finalists for Client Counseling posing with their coach Zack Anstett '18

RALEIGH —  Campbell Law advocates are headed once again into the national semifinals as one of the final six teams competing at the American Bar Association’s National Client Counseling Competition. They are also continuing to make history by competing for the national championship virtually.

“Grace Massarelli ’21 and Amber Younce ’21 have been stellar,” wrote Professor Dan Tilly, director of the law school’s award-winning advocacy program, in a congratulatory email.  “They won the ABA regional client counseling trophy earlier in the spring before the COVID-19 outbreak.  The ABA decided to hold the National Client Counseling competition remotely.  In doing so, they added significant written memo responses to the competition format in addition to a full day of remote client counseling sessions.”

Professor Tilly continued,”Grace and Amber have exhibited incredible advocacy talent along with resilience and flexibility. They have demonstrated just how lawyers have to adapt to representing clients in this pandemic. Grace and Amber will now compete among the final six in the nation this week in remote client counseling sessions. Please congratulate Grace and Amber, along with their dynamic coach Zack Anstett (’18) of Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP, for their tremendous accomplishment while wishing them luck this week!”

The team won the Regional American Bar Association (ABA) Client Counseling Competition on Feb. 8 in Knoxville, Tennessee. That meant they were headed to the National Finals for ABA Client Counseling Competition on March 20-21 in Connecticut.

But a lot has changed since February including all law schools and universities in the country pivoting to online learning in the wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Like in-person classes, most mock trial and moot court competitions have been cancelled.

The ABA, however, decided to allow schools willing to participate virtually in the national Client Counseling Competition finals to do so over a three-week period that began March 21.

“A big thanks to Professor Dan Tilly for letting the team use all of the technology in the Boyce Advocacy Center,” Anstett said during a break in the competition. “The Advocacy Center resources has helped make our team’s participation in this competition seamless.”

This year’s competition focuses on the area of estate planning. Students are called on to explain various aspects of the attorney-client relationship, build rapport, determine client goals and consider applicable law and options that may be available to the client.

The ABA Client Counseling competition addresses fundamental skills necessary for all successful attorneys, namely the ability to interview, counsel, and support a client through their legal issue. Competitors conduct an initial interview with a person playing the role of the client and then address both the client’s legal and non-legal needs.

Last year, Campbell Law’s client counseling team consisting of Tatiana Terry (’19) and Katie Webb Miller (’19) won the Regional, National and World Championship titles. This year’s International Championship, which would have been held in Florida, has been cancelled.


Since its founding in 1976, Campbell Law has developed lawyers who possess moral conviction, social compassion, and professional competence, and who view the law as a calling to serve others. Among its accolades, the school has been recognized by the American Bar Association (ABA) as having the nation’s top Professionalism Program and by the American Academy of Trial Lawyers for having the nation’s best Trial Advocacy Program. Campbell Law boasts more than 4,200 alumni, who make their home in nearly all 50 states and beyond. In 2019, Campbell Law celebrated 40 years of graduating legal leaders and 10 years of being located in a state-of-the-art facility in the heart of North Carolina’s Capital City.