On March 5, 2011, ten of the top first-year teams from the Chicago Debate League were invited to compete at the McDermott Will and Emery JV Invitational. McDermott not only sponsored the event, but also graciously hosted it at their downtown Chicago offices and provided judging for the tournament.
Participating teams were: Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, Michele Clark, Evanston Township High School, Harlan High School, Hyde Park Academy High School, Marshall Metro High School, Lincoln Park High School, Phoenix Military Academy, Westinghouse College Prep, and The University of Chicago Charter School – Woodlawn.
Nicole Robinson, a debater at Michele Clark, commented that, “being at a major law firm like McDermott Will and Emery was great. It was cool to be judged by people who argue for a living, and since I want to be a lawyer when I grow up, the feedback I received during rounds and during the panel discussion gave me some really good insight into what I’ll need to do in college and beyond to achieve that goal.”
Students participated in a panel discussion with McDermott Will and Emery attorneys about the connection between debate and the legal profession. Students asked questions about legal careers with senior partner Michael Boykins and partners Nathan Coco, Kevin Feeley, and Linda Doyle, all of whom were also judges at the tournament.
Students learned about the different areas of law each partner practiced, what a typical day’s work looked like, the academic and personal choices that helped bring them to become attorneys, and some of the skills that participating in activities like policy debate help teach in preparing for legal careers.
When asked about his perspective on the event, CDC Board member Nathan Coco commented, “Debate does so much for students who apply themselves. Our firm’s involvement in the Chicago Debate League is about showing students that if they keep working hard, it pays off, whether that means they become a lawyer or something entirely different.”
Michele Clark coach Phyllis Ford-France commented, “Events like the JV Invitational are wonderful for our students. Not only do they expose our students to a great professional environment and allow them to interact with some of the best legal professionals in the country, but perhaps more importantly it gets our students actively thinking about their own future careers.”