On May 7, Lena Konanova ’08 capped off her law school experience by representing a client bringing a case of employment discrimination before the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. The opportunity arose as part of her clinical placement in the Employment Civil Rights Clinic at the WilmerHale Legal Services Center.

During her 15-minute argument, Konanova was grilled by a three-judge panel of the First Circuit. “I thoroughly enjoyed being up at the podium, engaged in a substantive conversation with the judges and sharing my knowledge of the case law and the facts,” she said.

Under the supervision of lecturer on law and clinical instructor Steve Churchill ’93, Konanova began working on her client’s reply brief at the beginning of the spring semester and was then asked to handle the argument. After mastering the record and the relevant law, Konanova underwent a series of mock arguments with Churchill and her fellow clinical students.

Churchill filed a successful motion with the First Circuit to get its permission for Konanova to argue, even though she has not yet been permitted to the bar.

“She was incredibly well prepared, and it showed through her confidence and ability to respond effectively to the panel’s questions,” said Churchill. “The opposing attorney made a point of complimenting her presentation.”

Konanova is no stranger to employment law or appellate argument, having focused on both areas during her time in law school. During her 3L year, she was on the winning team in the finals of the Ames Moot Court competition, took the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, and authored a note for the Harvard Law Review, examining an issue of employment discrimination.

Next fall, Konanova will continue her immersion in appellate law when she begins a clerkship on the Ninth Circuit.