Rachel Kabat L’25 and Robert Kirschenbaum L’25 won the 2023 New England Hockey Arbitration Competition.
Over the summer, Rachel Kabat L’25 and Robert Kirschenbaum L’25 represented the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School in the 2023 New England Hockey Arbitration Competition (NEHAC). They won the moot arbitration competition, advancing through multiple rounds and besting 20 schools from the United States and Canada.
Kabat, who is pursuing a career in international public interest lawyering, and Kirschenbaum, a lifelong sports fan and aspiring sports law attorney, were in the same 1L section and secured their victory after bonding over a shared interest: they were both avid hockey fans.
“Rachel had heard about NEHAC and asked me if I was interested,” he said. Kirschenbaum jumped in without hesitation, and the team spent the weeks leading up to the competition carefully preparing briefs and exhibits and practicing oral arguments.
After joining Penn Carey Law’s Entertainment & Sports Law Society (ESLS), Kirschenbaum welcomed NEHAC as another opportunity to immerse himself in sports law, as well as to engage in substantive work that aligned with his career goals.
“I aspire to be a legal advocate,” he said, “and I am specifically interested in representing professional athletes or teams in contract negotiations and arbitrations.”
A former AmeriCorps Fellow, Kabat’s career goals include advocating for refugee communities and fighting human rights abuses around the world. She was surprised at the numerous commonalities between her intended legal specialty and sports law, particularly for international sports, like hockey, where players, staff, fans, and competitive leagues are scattered across the globe.
“The NEHAC moot arbitration is an exercise in navigating cultural and professional differences between clients and those in positions of power, much as is the case in public international law,” Kabat said. As a rising 2L oralist on Penn Carey Law’s Jessup International Moot Court team, Kabat also appreciated an opportunity to hone her skills in a competitive environment.
Charting a Course for Success
Reflecting on what most prepared them for the competition and, ultimately, their success, both Kabat and Kirschenbaum credited their experiential learning during their Legal Practice Skills (LPS) courses, as well as coaching from Senior Lecturer Karen U. Lindell to prepare for NEHAC.
Sarah Pierce, Denise A. Rotko Associate Dean for Legal Practice Skills, points to one of the program’s core goals: leveraging experiential learning to prepare students to lead dynamic legal careers. Beginning in the first week of their 1L year, students wrestle with complex legal issues and receive in-depth feedback throughout the yearlong course. Upon completing the program, students are ready to tackle significant legal challenges in a variety of settings.
“Penn Carey Law students come in on day one with energy and enthusiasm, and LPS aims to guide them along the path to excellence in their legal practice,” Pierce said. “We couldn’t be prouder of the work Kabat and Kirschenbaum have done at Penn Carey Law and their success in the NEHAC competition. We can’t wait to see what they do next in their legal careers!”
Kirschenbaum credited his LPS course taught by Lindell with honing the legal writing and oral advocacy skills he applied throughout the arbitration competition. “Karen Lindell was incredible and taught me so many important lessons that provided me with key skills that led to our success, including crafting an argument for the written briefs, developing a strong opening statement, and creating and delivering a rebuttal,” he said.
Similarly, Kabat shared how the guidance and feedback from from LPS Senior Lecturer Matthew Duncan L’03 and Littleton Fellow Courtney Sy L’23 helped her to refine her research and writing skills, including translating written points into an oral argument.
“These attributes were necessary to succeed in the hockey arbitration moot,” she said. “I found myself appreciating the in-depth instruction LPS had provided. I am also extremely grateful for the guidance of Karen Lindell, who helped us hone our technique for the competition.”
As the team’s coach and Kirschenbaum’s LPS instructor, Lindell supported Kabat and Kirschenbaum to prepare for the competition and directly apply skills and knowledge from their LPS courses.
“I’m so glad they found the hockey arbitration competition,” Lindell said. “It gave them both a chance to build their legal skills in an area that played to their interests and strengths. Watching them compete was thrilling. Their victory was hard-earned and well-deserved!”