By Allison Chisolm
Dan Kozusko '00 was in third grade, the trials he liked
to watch were on television, on The People's Court. He's been
a fan ever since. Carpenter, Kozusko and many other Holy Cross
students are working hard to get into court themselves. Participants
in the pre-law
program, they've caught the legal bug and have set their sights on law
The summer he was 10, Keon Carpenter '98 was shining
shoes in Pontiac, Michigan's City Hall when he met a
judge. The man told Carpenter he could observe the courtroom
trials if he wanted. Compared to shoeshine work, Carpenter
recalled, watching trials "wasn't as lucrative, but much
more entertaining." One day, he decided, he'd be part
of that world.
They join a long line of predecessors. For many alumni, it's been a well-trodden
path - go to Holy Cross and then go to law school. But in the 1990s, the market
for lawyers has tightened up. Going to just any law school isn't a guaranteed
ticket to prosperity and success anymore. Where a student attends law school
has a lot to do with employment options after graduation.
According to Scott Sandstrom, professor of business law and accounting, the
last decade has seen student debt loads triple. If law school graduates end
up in low-paying jobs, he said, they've "taken on a mortgage-size debt without
the salary commensurate to pay it. This creates tension and anxiety. We are
doing everything we can to get our students into schools with solid reputations."
Over the past several years, Holy Cross has revitalized its pre-law program.
In 1994, Sandstrom became faculty advisor to students like Carpenter and Kozusko,
and some 550 other advisees. In addition, he works with many alumni applicants.
His specific mandate was to improve the numbers of Holy Cross graduates accepted
into the nation's top law schools.
"With college costs at $30,000 a year, students and parents want to feel
confident that their investment will pay dividends when they apply to professional
schools," said Sandstrom. The College administration and trustees felt "we
could and should do more for pre-law students than we were doing."
Sandstrom prepared a plan which included more extensive hands-on advising,
the launching of a law publication, and participation in collegiate mock trial
competitions. By February 1998, all had been implemented. And since 1994, the
numbers of top law school acceptances have more than quadrupled, and matriculations
Expanded Advising Program
"I'm big on goal-setting," said Sandstrom, a philosophy he shares with incoming
first-year students each year. He meets with first-year students interested
in law school within the first month of school, "while they're still listening," he
said. The major theme of his talk is that building a solid academic record
is important and that "grades matter." One bad semester can lower a GPA enough
to place them out of the running at the top law schools. He encourages students
to adjust to the pace of college life quickly and to stay on top of their workload.
Sandstrom shares with them a "range finder" that correlates median GPA and
LSAT scores with law school admissions records. If students want to attend
one of the top 15 law schools (tracked by the magazine U.S. News & World
Report), they will need a GPA of 3.5 and LSAT scores in the mid 160s (on
a scale of 120-180).
"I view my role as coach and motivator," said Sandstrom. "I try to get them
to set high academic goals and do their best to reach them." Once he's met
with interested students, Sandstrom has a mailing list to keep them informed
about upcoming events designed to broaden their thinking about entering the
legal profession. His work is beginning to pay off, as the seniors he spoke
to in their first year apply to law school this year. "We've done well and
seen real, measurable improvement," he said.
The numbers prove his point. About 100 students apply to law school every
year. In 1994, the year Sandstrom began as pre-law advisor, 10 Holy Cross graduates
were accepted at the country's top 15 law schools, and six matriculated. By
1997, Holy Cross numbered 44 acceptances and 15 matriculations at schools including
Harvard, Yale, University of Chicago, Columbia, New York University, Georgetown,
Virginia, and Cornell. The College continues to send large numbers of students
to law schools such as Fordham, Boston College, University of Connecticut,
Each year, Sandstrom tries to bring a prominent speaker to campus and convene
a panel of Holy Cross alumni who are third-year law students. One recent speaker
was Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a visit that generated much debate,
legal and otherwise, on campus. Third-year students discuss both the current
job market and the process they went through to get into law school. Their
stories reinforce Sandstrom's message that law school admissions offices weigh
heavily students' academic records and LSAT scores.
Birth of a Journal
Pre-law students needed an outlet for their interests, Sandstrom believed,
and a publication was one way to channel their energies. He felt working on
a law journal would give them an opportunity to do some legal research, perform
cite checking, and polish their editing skills. In 1996, a group of 18 students
launched The Holy Cross Journal of Law and Public Policy, a first for
Holy Cross, and most likely a first among undergraduate institutions. The path
to publication was a long and thoughtful one.
The group, together with Sandstrom, considered a number of models, including
a traditional law review style, as published by many law schools. This model
was rejected since articles in law reviews are very technical in nature and
often deal with an obscure rule of law. Another model would be to publish articles
which took sides on controversial issues, a kind of point-counterpoint approach.
Examples might include both sides of an issue such as whether or not a terminally
ill patient should have the right to physician-assisted suicide.
The students met with law review editors at Suffolk Law School (where Sandstrom
received his juris doctor degree), and received job descriptions for editorial
roles, printing, layout work, and other advice. Ultimately, it was decided
that thematic issues would be too restrictive and the choice was made to concentrate
on subjects of broad interest to the general community. There would be no shortage
of contributors, as many law students want to publish their work.
The student editorial board incorporated that advice into The Journal's overall
mission, which is, as the first issue's preface explained, to be a "forum for
undergraduate pre-law students to examine some of the more difficult problems
facing our society as we approach the next millennium." Solicitation letters
yielded 40 submissions, which the students reviewed, short listed to six, edited,
checked citations and secured copyright permission to print in final form.
The inaugural issue, published in the fall of 1996, featured six articles
in a professionally produced 201-page paperback volume. Holy Cross students
contributed two articles, and an alumnus wrote one. The second issue, 216 pages
published in late 1997, featured five articles, one by a fourth-year student
and one by an alumnus. The third issue is underway now for late '98 publication.
The project was underwritten by a grant from trustee and attorney Agnes N.
Williams, which has helped fund a computer and software used to lay out the
publication, as well as the printing costs.
The idea on paper had become a reality and source of pride for the students
involved. As Sandstrom wrote in the first issue, "the hundreds of hours spent
organizing the format of the journal . . . has been a fantastic experience
for our students. . . . I am enormously proud of their effort." Editors and
staff members are encouraged to include a copy of the journal with their law
school application. The Journal is also shown to parents at Admission open
house events, and it appears to be helping in the recruitment of pre-law students.
Lawyers in Training at Mock Trial Competition
Pre-law students don't just want to write about the law - they want to be
lawyers themselves. A "mock trial" competition gets students into a courtroom
setting and lets them role-play as prosecutor, defense attorney and witness.
For the past four years, Clark University has hosted the New England Regional
Intercollegiate Mock Trial tournament in February, and this year, Holy Cross
fielded a team. Seven stalwart students argued their way through State v. Darnell,
a fictitious murder case set in the state of "Midlands." Students were given
case summaries, witness statements, autopsy and toxicology reports, and 24
pages of the Midlands Rules of Court governing procedure, evidence, conduct
and decorum for all mock trial participants.
Keon Carpenter '98 was thrilled to join the team. "A pre-law program means
nothing if you don't get the chance to try being a lawyer," he said.
About 20 students started attending the year's first meetings last fall,
Sandstrom said, but once they saw the workload involved, the numbers dwindled
to seven by the time intensive practices began in January. "Everyone wants
to be lead attorney, but few want to learn the rules," he said. "Teamwork was
important for this exercise, and they worked as a team very well."
Sandstrom tapped two alumni as coaches, Worcester attorneys Ed McDermott '79
and classmate Carey Smith. Most of the students had never participated in an
undergraduate mock trial before, but one of the team members, Ryan Hayward '01,
had been on a high school championship team in Bergen County, N.J. The New
England competition lasted two days, and the Holy Cross team competed four
times, against Harvard, Boston University and two teams from Tufts. Each three-hour
trial was judged by volunteer judges and attorneys from the Worcester area.
By the end of the second day, Holy Cross had won twice and lost twice, each
by slim margins. The team won more individual awards (3) than any other school,
but finished in the middle of the pack overall. The competition was fierce,
with experienced teams from eight other schools, including Amherst, St. John's,
Harvard, Tufts, Boston College and Princeton. Princeton proved the overall
"It was very competitive," said Sandstrom. "But it's a competitive profession.
A large part of lawyering is coming out on top."
And the judging? "Let's just say the judging was unusual," he said. "We 'lost' a
case we felt we had won overwhelmingly, then won a case we thought we may have
lost. We had a really strong group. We just need practice. I think we've got
something to build on."
With the law journal and mock trial team established, Sandstrom's next project
is technological. He is constructing a pre-law program website that should
be up and running by the fall of '98. Besides providing information on pre-law
program activities at Holy Cross, the website will allow users to access sites
where they can register and pay for the LSAT, access LSAT preparation information,
apply directly to law schools, and use search engines for summer job listings. The
Holy Cross Journal of Law and Public Policy will be online, and there will
be links to the website for the student law organization, the St. Thomas More
The environment for pre-law students at Holy Cross has
changed materially in the past four years. "We try to engage students in the
pre-law program early, and to provide meaningful things to do that have a legal
twist. I think we've turned a corner."
Interested Alumni are encouraged to contact Scott Sandstrom, the pre-law
advisor, for information about the law school application process. Sandstrom
can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com
Undergraduate Law Journal Stands Alone
By Allison Chisolm
Holy Cross undergraduates have produced something unique, and they've told
American law schools about it. Now in its third year, The Holy Cross Journal
of Law and Public Policy is believed to be the only law journal in the
United States published solely by undergraduates. About 600 copies of each
issue are printed, and the distribution list includes the dean and the library
at every law school in the country.
Last year's editor, Michelle Cadin '98, sees the publication playing a number
of important roles. On an individual level, she said, "it's a good opportunity
to do legal research, read articles and talk to law students to see if law
school's for you." Plus, working on a journal "looks good on the resume."
On the school level, she said, the journal could change the nature of the
campus environment. "Considering the level of intellect here," she said, "it's
not a politically charged campus. This could create a forum for debate."
The charter editorial board was a small one, headed by Michael Baillargeon '97.
His responsibilities included organizing the staff, establishing acceptance
guidelines, setting up the initial layout and design, using Pagemaker 6. He
worked with Damian Schaible '98, and in about eight hours, according to faculty
advisor Scott Sandstrom, they learned the software and established a basic
After determining the overall concept and purpose for the publication (see
main story), they began to solicit articles. Letters went out to law
review editors as well as student bar associations, asking them to notify
their students about publishing opportunities at Holy Cross.
Their requests yielded 40 submissions and the real work began. From that
point on, Sandstrom said, "it was an all-student production." Editors read
five articles each over the summer, rating their suitability based on agreed-upon
criteria. Each article is read by two editors. With the best articles selected
(six for the first issue), they began checking the articles' citations and
editing the copy for clarity. Some manuscripts, Sandstrom said, are 80 pages
or more, but students have to edit them down to 40 or 45 pages.
"Most of our students have authored a wide range of papers at College," said
Sandstrom, "getting them back with comments, corrections, and a grade from
their professors. Few of them have reviewed the work of others. For many of
our students, editing a law article is the first time they are 'on the other
side of the table.' They work with these authors on presenting legal issues
in a clear and concise manner."
Sandstrom pointed out that the hands-on nature of the process is invaluable. "Students
have to go to the law library downtown to do much of the citation checking," he
said, "and this year our students will learn to use Dinand Library's new LEXIS-NEXIS
service. It's a great way to give our students some exposure to what lawyers
do frequently in practice. Reading, writing, editing, and paying attention
Once the articles have been accepted and edited, the students request copyright
permission from the authors, a crucial step. The articles are desk-top published
as they are completed, with the final production preparation taking about a
The last editorial meeting is a very long proofreading session. "We go over
it with a fine tooth comb," says current Editor in Chief Dan Kozusko '00. The
printing is done by Holy Cross' graphic arts department, and binding is bid
out. The finished product is very professional looking, very similar to what
a typical law review looks like.
Issue 2, edited by Michelle Cadin, saw a huge jump in student participation,
from 18 to more than 40. An organizational structure had to be established
to tap everyone's talents. Each editorial board member (elected by the previous
year's group) had four or five students assigned to them. They all worked together
on the same article. Cadin developed a constitution for the organization and
started working on a home page for the World Wide Web.
"I felt really great to have done something to establish this," said Cadin,
who worked as a staff member on the first issue. The second issue had five
articles and information on subscriptions for future issues ($25 annually).
"Our goal is to become self-funding," said current editor Kozusko. "But it
will take some time." He thinks Cadin has left the publication in good shape,
and has no plans to change its direction. Approximately 25 law schools have
ordered paid subscriptions already.
One procedural change he introduced, however, has already produced results.
He created an "early action" deadline; submissions sent in February receive
a response by March 1. This approach netted two articles: one on women in combat,
written by a woman who was a Marine and written "without military jargon" according
to Kozusko; and a second on all the affirmative action cases considered by
the Supreme Court, from education to congressional redistricting issues. "It's
a tour de force," he said.
Another change was to extend the regular submissions deadline from April
15 to May 15 so that more law students could submit their final papers. Issue
3 should be published later this year. While the final list of articles has
yet to be determined, Kozusko hopes the journal will someday publish articles
on international law, a legal examination of the independent counsel's office,
and the line item veto.
Although the journal is written primarily by law students for law students
and their professors, the goal is to increase the number of undergraduate submissions.
Several articles by Holy Cross students have already been published. "It's
something for students to aspire to," said Cadin.
"I knew we could do it," said Sandstrom with evident pride. "Our students
are vary talented and have the ability to do this level of work."
Copies of the journal have been requested from a number of undergraduate
institutions who are now considering starting an undergraduate journal of their
Was It Self Defense? Holy Cross Takes the Stand
By Allison Chisolm
Lee Darnell's son lay dead on the floor, bleeding from four
bullet wounds in his chest. Edwin, a heavy cocaine user, had just finished
summer school to get his high school diploma. When the police came to investigate
the next door neighbor's report of gunshots, Lee Darnell, a local cable
television news anchor, opened the door and surrendered. Once in the police
station, Darnell's only words were, repeated over and over, "My son is
dead." One week later, Darnell's lawyer announced the murder was committed
This fictitious case of State v. Darnell was argued by a team of seven Holy
Cross students four times over two days during an intercollegiate "mock trial" competition
at Clark University in February. While they'd spent months since October analyzing
the case and practicing different roles, they had only 30 minutes' notice to
transform themselves into defense attorneys, prosecutors or witnesses for either
side. The defense had to provide a reasonable version of events to support
the assertion of self-defense. The prosecution had to prove premeditation and "malice
Operating on adrenaline, the students had a great weekend. "I loved it. I
enjoy that pressure," said Keon Carpenter '98. "I feel comfortable with my
client's life on the line."
The first match was against the Harvard/Radcliffe team. The team may have
seemed like intimidating Ivy Leaguers to some, but Carpenter was relieved.
It was a chance to see the more experienced Harvard team's style and examine
how they conducted the case.
The match was a draw but Holy Cross won on overall points. After three more
matches, against Boston University that same night and then two teams from
Tufts, the Holy Cross team finished in the middle of the pack.
When the tournament was over, Carpenter and Ryan Hayward '01 each received
Best Attorney awards (out of 10 awarded altogether), and Michelle Cadin '98
won as Best Witness (one out of 10 awards). Cadin credits two years of theater
classes for her award. Playing defendant Lee Darnell, she said, "was good - I
was crying, pleading I was innocent." As a witness, she said, "I could wiggle
my way out of their questions and answer them with something else."
Carpenter attributed his award to "courtroom presence, being competent, clear
and concise." He recalled with relish his closing argument against Harvard. "They
allowed me to tie my stories together, do some damage control, reiterate my
strongest message and sell them on the vision. I got the other side to buy
into my story," he said. "I looked at the Harvard team and saw their faces
drop as their case slipped away."
The team got underway early last fall when Scott Sandstrom, pre-law faculty
advisor, contacted Boston attorney Ed McDermott '79 about coaching. Ed called
classmate Carey Smith, a trial attorney in Worcester. They accepted Sandstrom's
offer, although neither had participated in a college-level mock trial competition
When Smith and McDermott discussed their approach for mock trial training,
they decided to listen to the students and adapt their ideas. After everyone
had read through the case materials, the coaches asked them to choose which
side had the stronger argument. Based on those choices, students split up into
teams and practiced examining witnesses, raising objections, and making effective
opening and closing arguments. Results of that work helped identify those best
suited for each character, prosecution or defence.
Cadin helped the team in its initial strategy sessions, as she'd enrolled
in a trial advocacy course at Clark last fall, taught by Clark's mock trial
coaches (and overall coordinators of the event). Participating in an actual
competition, however, was much different from class. "It's a lot harder than
it looks," she said. "It's easy to get off your main line of questioning when
a witness says something unexpected."
Cadin's insider information was complemented by Hayward's experience the
previous year as a member of Bergen (N.J.) Catholic's state finalist team.
Carpenter had also done high school mock trial competitions four years ago
at Academic High School in Jersey City.
The team met for three hours in Stein every Tuesday night, and again on weekends
as the competition got closer. "Most of the meetings were debates over strategy," said
Carpenter. "How did we want to use witnesses? What facts did we want to bring
out with them?" Each student worked hard to "close all the holes and get our
story solidified," he said.
"I wanted to start doing scrimmages [trial run-throughs] by late November,
but in reality, we didn't do those 'til early February," Carpenter said, only
a few weeks before the actual competition. "A lot of our prep work was on the
actual case," Cadin added.
"They all had something to contribute and did an excellent job," said coach
Smith. He'd done mock trial competitions while at Suffolk Law School, "but
you never know what particular quirks are involved in each competition."
"It was good to see the students grow into their roles," he said. "They really
devoted themselves to it. As we got closer to the competition, the students
didn't look to us so much. We evolved to the point where they assumed 99 percent
of the responsibility for getting their particular tasks ready."
"We learned a lot about thinking on our feet," Cadin said. "But I don't think
we grasped fully how things would be scored. We're still learning how to do
a cross-examination, direct questioning, and an effective closing argument."
This year, the team plans to build on its experience and has accepted an
invitation to compete in the "Ivy League Mock Trail" competition in November.
Hayward and another student plan to co-captain the team and undertake some
personal recruiting. Over 45 students have signed up already for 1998-99, allowing
the College to enter several teams in competitions. As Hayward did in high
school, students will read through the case and argue which side is more winnable,
assume a witness role and memorize an affidavit and list of facts.
"We're only a step away from winning," Hayward said. After the competition
at Clark, the team got some useful pointers from Judge Herbert Travers Jr. '49.
It boils down to force or finesse, they were told. Know when to object, be
more assertive, and they'd be a force to contend with.
This year's team has its sights set on getting a bid to the national competitions
in Iowa or Minnesota. But winning isn't the only goal of a mock trial competition.
During the proceedings, judges sometimes helped a team understand their decisions. "Some
took off points for something you did, some for something you didn't do," said
Cadin. But one judge told Cadin something more important, saying, "Someday
you're going to make a terrific lawyer." Win or lose, she said, that made it
Allison Chisolm is a free-lance writer from Worcester.