Monday Morning Message 11.25.19 Seek First to Understand

Posted 2019-11-25 9:19am

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” – Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

As Thanksgiving approaches later this week, I want to express my gratitude for the exceptional work of our law students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends, and for the support and leadership of CSU President Harlan Sands, CSU Provost Jianping Zhu, CSU Board Chair David Gunning ’94, Board of Visitors Chair Kelly Tompkins ‘81, and Alumni Association President John Calabrese ’12.

At a time when political polarization has reached new heights and political discourse has reached new lows, I also want to pause to thank those leaders in our society who seek to foster a culture of respect, civility, and understanding.

It’s never been more important to teach and train a new generation of leaders who have the courage and skill to listen, learn, and understand before they speak, advocate, and lead.

I believe that the single most important skill we teach at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University is the ability to step outside the constraints of your own immediate, biased frames of reference and to see every problem, challenge, and opportunity with new eyes. As Wayne Dyer said, “if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Our students are educated and trained to perfect those skills.

That’s why I’m so proud to share the recent successes of our outstanding C|M|LAW Trial Advocacy Team (aka Mock Trial Team) and C|M|LAW Moot Court Team.

These students perfect their written and oral communication skills by learning how to argue not only for a position with which they agree but also for one with which they personally disagree. Trial Advocacy and Moot Court require our students to, in the words of Stephen Covey, “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

Our award-winning Trial Advocacy Team recently participated in the annual “Case Classic Mock Trial Competition”, an annual invitational trial advocacy competition which consisted of 18 teams from 7 law schools (including University of Akron, Case Western Reserve University, University of Cincinnati, University of Pittsburgh, William & Mary, and University of Alabama).

The students compete in teams of four, and try a fictional case against other teams in front of volunteer “judges” who are practicing and retired attorneys and judges from the Cleveland area. Over the course of four rounds, the judges score students on their skills presenting opening statements, direct examination, cross examination, and closing arguments.

I am very pleased to share that Cleveland-Marshall earned first place, and had the only team that went undefeated!

Special congratulations to our undefeated first place team, which earned 4 wins, of Gary Baker (3L), Carley Berman (3L), Jed Chedid (2L), and Grace Karam (2L)!

Congratulations to the team of 3L Michael Paskert (Trial Team Captain), 2L Nick Siciliano, 2L Madison Karn, and 3L Zach Shapiro who earned two wins, defeating Pittsburgh and Case Western Reserve.

Congratulations to the team of 2L Marcus Desantis, 2L Alexis Mrockza, 2L Jameson Tibbs, and 2L Dakota Stiegelmeyer who earned one win, defeating Case Western Reserve.

Thanks to our Trial Advocacy Team’s outstanding coaches, Julian Emerson and Katie Lynn Zorc (‘14), both attorneys at Reminger Co., L.P.A. and to Faculty Advisors Professor Patti Falk and Professor Kevin O’Neill.

 Our award-winning Moot Court Team is our school’s appellate advocacy competition team. The team competes nationally and most recently travelled to Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Dayton for national competiitons.

Special congratulations to 3Ls Billy Killmeyer (Moot Court Team Chair), Ashley Kirk, and Pat Lipaj, who won the Best Brief Award out of 32 teams at the National First Amendment competition in Washington, D.C.!  Thanks to the team’s outstanding coach, Dan Bolliger ‘13, an attorney at Calfee.

Congratulations also to 3Ls Grace Hurley, Trae Graham, Joelle LivorseJessica Hamad, Malek Khawam, and PJ Sullivan  who competed in national competitions.

Thanks to our outstanding Moot Court Co-Directors Alex Reich ’09 and Caitlin Hill, ’14, and to Faculty Advisor, Associate Dean and Professor Carolyn Broering-Jacobs.

Let us give thanks to each other on this Thanksgiving, and let us work together for a future of listening, understanding, civility, and a search for common ground.

This week’s Monday Moment:   8 TED Talks on the Importance of Listening

 Have a great day. Have a great week.

For copies of past messages, please go to this link: Monday Morning Messages

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 My views in all my Monday Morning Messages are my personal views alone and do not reflect the views of our law school or our university.

My best,


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