Mitchell Hamline students have a tradition of competing strongly and placing well in moot courts and other competitions, but the outcome of the recent ABA Negotiation Competition in Chicago had a new twist. For the first time, students in the school’s first-of-its-kind HYBRID J.D.℠ program not only participated in a student competition but placed well enough to earn an invitation to nationals.
The team of Briana Al Taqatqa and Brian Kennedy, both students in the first cohort of the HYBRID J.D. program, took 2nd in the regional competition, held at John Marshall Law School, and will compete in nationals in February. Another Mitchell Hamline team, consisting of 3L Mitchel Anderson and 2L Jesse Jennings, took 5th.
HYBRID J.D. students, because they do half their coursework online, can and do live all over the country and the world. The goal from the start has been to assure they’re able to take part in all the activities and programs available to on-campus students. “What this tells me is we are making good progress toward that goal,” said Mitchell Hamline President and Dean Mark Gordon. “Hybrid students are not only participating but excelling. I congratulate both teams on their success, and I wish Briana and Brian the best at nationals.”
Briana and Brian were able to have two in-person practices before the competition, but most of their preparation was done by through remote means. “Although I am a hybrid student, I live locally, so I commuted to campus and met with the other team members and the coaches in person. We connected with Brian via Lync or FaceTime,” said Briana. The team started preparing at the end of September and had practices once a week for two hours.
One key to the success was the ability of the coaches–Pat Zitek, (HUSL ’10), Professor Ken Fox, and Lynn LeMoine (HUSL ’11)—to work around the students’ schedules, said Brian. “The flexibility of the coaches was critical to us being able to train for the competition. They adjusted to our availability and really made it work for all of us,” he said.
“Since the start of the Hybrid Program, the school has been excited about the idea of hybrid students participating in traditional law school student groups and activities,” said Briana. “Hopefully, Brian and I are proof that it can work. Further, we are certain that the fact that we have real life and work experiences contributed to our success in the competition. We are very excited about going to nationals in February.”