Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

June 6, 2013

Drake team with Knoxville ties represents nation

Steve Woodhouse
Journal-Express

Knoxville — One half of the national championship team in the American Bar Association's National Client Counseling Competition has ties to Knoxville.

Drake Law School students Katheryn Pearson Thorson and Nathan J. Borland won the national competition in Texas before moving on to the worldwide competition in Scotland. Katheryn is a Norwalk graduate, but makes frequent trips to Knoxville to visit her grandparents Jeanne Smith and Scott and Joyce Pearson. 

Katheryn, who attended Simpson College for her undergraduate degree before attending Drake, graduated from law school in May. She is currently studying to pass the Bar. 

The international competition took place during Drake's Spring Break. The team tied for fourth in the event, reaching the semifinals. There were between 20-25 English-speaking countries involved. 

“Overall, it was just a really good experience,” Katheryn said. 

The competition places teams in hypothetical situations they may face as practicing attorneys. People pose as “clients” and come to them with problems. Teams are expected to solve them.

As with any competition, the difficulty increases at each level. The competition focused on employment law, and at the international competition, the questions she and her partner needed to address went beyond the letter of the law. Ethics played a larger role in how they handled the situation.

For example, the team was presented with a situation in which a mother wants to sue her son's bully. Through this process, the mother became a bully herself, making her son's tormentor a victim. 

Katheryn has learned in the real world that most clients just need someone to talk to. Oftentimes, practical solutions can be reached and problems resolved before reaching the courts. 

“I've always wanted to be a lawyer,” Katheryn said. She has already been hired by the Brown Winick Law Firm in Des Moines. The firm handles a variety of cases, with which she is eager to assist. If she had her choice to specialize, she would like to focus on contract law. 

Katheryn is the daughter of Kevin and Ginger Pearson. She graduated with high honors (3.5-3.69 gpa) from Drake.