Colleen Faherty ’14: Student Advocate in Federal Court
President of the Seton Hall Law Dispute Resolution Society and a student advocate in the Southern District of New York Settlement Conference Practicum, reports on a case that she recently successfully negotiated.
Colleen Faherty '14, President of the Dispute Resolution Society and a student advocate in the Southern District of New York (SDNY) Settlement Conference Practicum, reports on a case in which she served as legal counsel to Randall Lewis in an employment discrimination case against his former employer:
The SDNY Settlement Conference Practicum is an opportunity for Seton Hall Law students to represent, under the licensed faculty supervision of Professor David M. White, otherwise pro se litigants through settlement conferences before United States magistrate judges.
Settlement Conferences are facilitated negotiations in which the magistrate judge acts as a third-party "agent of reality." Student advocates help their clients to realistically assess the merits of their case and the prospective value of settlement.
There are two significant opportunities through which to demonstrate zealous advocacy. The first of these is the drafting and submission of an ex parte settlement conference letter. The other is oral advocacy in both the joint sessions and private meetings with the magistrate judge, known as caucuses.
During their time before the Court, student advocates deliver opening statements, which include of a brief description of the client’s legal needs. The remainder of the session consists of a collaborative exchange of plaintiff demands and defendant offers. If the parties agree upon a resolution, the student advocates remain on the case in order to finalize the terms of the settlement agreement.
Following our successful negotiation, Mr. Lewis expressed his sincere gratitude to Seton Hall for our assistance and for helping his voice to be heard. On a personal note, he told me, “Thank you! You're my family now, Colleen,” in appreciation for the efforts I invested in negotiating successful closure to his federal litigation.
Established in June 2013, the SDNY Settlement Conference Practicum affords select Seton Hall students the uncommon opportunity to appear before federal judges in Manhattan. Student advocates build professional skills including client counseling, legal research, drafting and practical negotiation.