Three judges, one of whom previously taught legal writing at Elon Law, answered student questions after hearing oral arguments on April 26, 2023, regarding a business dispute between several insurance companies and their former owner.
A recent visit by the North Carolina Court of Appeals to Elon Law demonstrated for students just how complex business relationships can be when one man controls several interrelated companies.
For instance: Should the man uphold his end of an agreement to relinquish control of current companies to satisfy debt obligations to insurance companies he once owned? A lower court had already decided that he breached the contract.
That same court also determined the man and co-conspirators defrauded creditors. But no damages were awarded pending the outcome of a possible appeal. Was that the right course of action?
These were some of the questions at the heart of Southland National Insurance Company v. Lindberg, a case heard April 26, 2023, by a panel of state appellate judges visiting Elon Law’s Robert E. Long Courtroom.
Judges Valerie Zachary, April Wood, and Julee Flood heard attorneys for both sides of the dispute before taking questions from dozens of Elon Law students gathered in the courtroom to observe the proceedings. It was a homecoming of sorts for Flood, a member of the Elon Law faculty during a legal writing fellowship from 2015-2017.
Attorneys involved in the case also introduced themselves and shared insights for achieving success in the legal profession based on their own career experiences.
“Students gained some important perspectives and were able to connect what they learn in the classroom to effectiveness in legal practice,” said Assistant Professor Caroleen Dineen, interim director of Elon Law’s Legal Method & Communication Program. “These types of experiential learning opportunities are so valuable for students preparing for their first-year oral arguments, planning for summer internships, applying for judicial residencies, and considering legal practice opportunities after graduation.”
A decision from the court is expected this summer.
“I learned how attorneys can prepare and present their sides in very different ways and still be equally effective. While one attorney spoke in a conversational manner and the other in a more formal manner, they both gave very persuasive arguments that applied facts to the black-letter law. Hearing both sides of the appeal really helped me see the importance of fully understanding the law to be able to effectively apply your facts, answer judges’ questions completely, and anticipate what rebuttals may be addressed.” – Baleigh Scheibner L’24, a North Carolina State University graduate with interest in civil litigation
“This experience was very relevant to my career interests as my future goals include obtaining a judicial clerkship and pursuing appellate practice. Watching attorneys’ oral arguments and interactions with the judges provided insight into different argument styles that is beneficial because the 1L class has upcoming oral arguments for our Legal Method & Communication course. Additionally, the Q&A session was very informative as we learned what the judges look for regarding briefs and oral arguments, as well as their advice for students hoping to pursue a clerkship after graduating law school.” – Ashley Joines L’24, a Clemson University graduate with an interest in judicial clerkships following law school graduation