SWLAW Blog | Alumni

Eleven Southwestern Graduates Selected for ABOTA Fellowships

September 7, 2016

Eleven Southwestern Graduates Selected for ABOTA Fellowships

The Los Angeles Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) has selected 11 members of Southwestern’s Class of 2016 for its prestigious three month Fellowship program. Graduates Jasmina Aragon, Tonya Barseghian, Katherine (Katy) Bekken, Anny Edinchikyan, Timothy Gauthier, Alex Giraldo, Shawn Halbert, Celline Hoogi, Nicole Ortiz, Sara Rodriguez and Katherine (Katie) Melik-Stepanyan will spend three months working for a defense firm, a plaintiffs firm and a Superior Court Judge.

According to Donald Forgey ’77, who has been an active member of ABOTA for many years: “That’s more than 50% of the 19 graduates accepted into the program from all law schools.  While Southwestern has consistently had more graduates accepted as ABOTA Fellows than any other law school, 11 is a new record.  I think that’s a real testament to the quality of students graduating from Southwestern and to the value of the school’s Trial Advocacy Honors Program (TAHP.)”

The ABOTA Fellowship is offered to the five major law schools in Los Angeles: Southwestern, UCLA, USC, Loyola, and Pepperdine. Eligible applicants had to finish law school in the top third of their graduating class, have a strong interest in civil jury trial practice, and intend to practice law in Los Angeles County. Fellows were selected based on their resumes, statement of interest, and an interview.

Participants take the bar exam in July and the Fellowship begins in September. Each Fellow will spend the first month in a civil defense firm, the second in a civil plaintiff’s law firm, and the last month shadowing a Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge both in the courtroom and in chambers. Fellows have often received job offers from one of the host firm placements in the past, according to Katrina Denny, Director of Career Services at Southwestern.

“The ABOTA Fellowship Program is an incredible opportunity for recent Southwestern graduates who want to pursue a career in civil trial work,” Denny said. “The level of experience the fellows receive in just three months is phenomenal.  Plus, the benefits and connections within the ABOTA network extend far beyond the completion of the program.”