The Chicago Debate Commission is very pleased to announce that the Chicago-based law firm of McDermott Will & Emery (MWE) has agreed to sponsor the 2009 tournament that will determine the CDL teams that qualify to represent Chicago at 2009 Chase Urban Debate National Championship.

The qualifying event will be held on April 4th, at the law offices of McDermott Will & Emery, at 227 West Monroe Street, Floor 45. The two top teams from this event will represent Chicago and defend the city’s current status as the Urban Debate National Champion. The National Championship, hosted by the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues, will feature teams from 23 Urban Debate Leagues across the nation.

Last April, the team from Lane Tech High School (Nick Locke and Andy Hobaugh) won the inaugural Chase Urban Debate National Championship, defeating Grady High School of Atlanta in the final round. The Championship’s final debate was held in the historic Abraham Lincoln Courtroom at the Northwestern University School of Law. Urban Debate League directors and coaches served as members of the final round judge panel, yielding a 5-0 decision for the victorious Lane Tech. Lane Tech, in fact, did not lose a ballot in the Elimination Rounds. Chicago’s other team at last year’s 18-city, 34-team Nationals was from Morgan Park (Cydney Edwards and Krystle Barnes), and they advanced to the Semi-Final Round.

Chicago representatives have an unmatched record of excellence in previous national competitions. In the history of urban debate there have been five national competitions beginning in 2001, two Varsity and three Novice. Chicago teams have won these four of the five. times The one Nationals Chicago didn’t win — the first, a Novice championship, in 2001 — it had the top two individual speakers, and finished in second place.

The McDermott Will & Emery Chicago Urban Debate Nationals Qualifier will include teams from ten schools in the CDL, including the “A” and “AA” Conference Champions. Additional teams will be invited by the CDC based on their season record. Beyond covering the core costs for the event, MWE will provide each competing school with a stipend to help cover coaching, judging and transportation costs. Attending students will also participate in a special career workshop on “Urban Debate and the Legal Profession.”

McDermott Will & Emery is a premier international law firm with a diversified business practice. Numbering more than 1,100 lawyers, MWE represents clients in 70 countries across six continents, including public companies, privately owned businesses, nonprofit organizations and governmental entities. The Chicago office of MWE opened in 1934 as the Firm’s first office. MWE is proud of its Midwestern roots and local clients of all sizes.

The CDC is very excited about the event, and grateful to McDermott Will & Emery for their generous sponsorship. In particular we would like to express our gratitude to Nathan Coco, Partner at MWE and CDC Board Member, who was the CDC’s point person on this sponsorship.

According to Michael Boykins, Partner and Co-Chair of the Racial and Ethnic Diversity Committee at MWE, “We are very pleased to provide a forum for the top urban debate teams in Chicago to compete to see which two will represent this extremely impressive Urban Debate League at the National Championship this year. We believe urban debate is indeed a way to bring the legal profession and our most articulate and ambitious urban public school students together — for their benefit, for the benefit of the practice of law, and for the broader benefit of our increasingly diverse American society and global American economy.”