Student Spotlight

Albany Law Team Places Top 10 of 215 in National Competition

Damien DiGiovanni '11 and Holly Pennington '11

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Damien DiGiovanni '11 and Holly Pennington '11 emerged out of a field of 215 teams from more than 100 law schools to finish in the top 10 at the American Bar Association (ABA) Negotiation National Competition held in Orlando last month.

"I think that Holly and I worked really well together," said DiGiovanni. "I did a little more attacking, while Holly was a bit more even keeled, and that dynamic served us well."

The pair used this good cop/bad cop technique to beat two teams at the national competition, ultimately losing in the semi-final round to the second-place finisher. Along the way, they gained significant insight into negotiating.

"It was interesting to see the styles of the other teams and how they prepare for a negotiation," added Pennington, who previously interned with Colleran, O'Hara and Mills LLP in Long Island, a firm that specializes in representing labor unions. This semester, she is working at a family law firm based in Ballston Spa, N.Y.

DiGiovanni has worked as a summer associate for Morgan, Brown & Joy LLP in Boston, which is a management-side employment law firm.

"There are really a lot of different places you can go with this concentration," he said, noting that he is currently interning with the New York State Public Employment Relations Board. Next summer, he will work in the legal department of a Boston-based online advertising firm.

Both students intend to pursue some aspect of labor and employment law upon their graduation in 2011.

The annual ABA Negotiation National Competition simulates legal negotiations in which law students, acting as lawyers, negotiate a series of legal problems. The focus of this year's competition was labor and employment law, making it an especially appropriate fit considering DiGiovanni and Pennington's backgrounds.

To reach the finals, DiGiovanni and Pennington placed first out of 16 teams from New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont and Canada in a regional competition held at Western New England School of Law in Springfield, Mass., last year.  

The second-year students were among approximately 30 Albany Law students that competed for four spots on the two teams that represent the law school in the regional competition. Professors Nancy Maurer and Jenean Taranto served as their faculty advisors throughout the competition, and both DiGiovanni and Pennington stressed how vital the two faculty members were in helping them prepare for each round of negotiation.

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