Michael Walsh is a man of many hats. He practices law as a compliance manager and assistant general counsel. He’s been an adjunct professor at Loyola since 1994, where he’s taught most law-related courses, mainly focused on constitutional law and judicial practices. He is secretary of the board of American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) and serves on many of the organization’s committees. Walsh is also the coach of Loyola’s mock trial team.
Over the weekend, Walsh received recognition for one of his many roles: He was presented with the Neal Smith Award for his work as mock trial coach. Every year, the AMTA recognizes a person’s contribution to law-related education.
Without Walsh’s help, Loyola may never have had a mock trial team. Back in 2002, a couple of students approached Walsh hoping to form a team. He said the team was slow to start, but they quickly picked up momentum and now compete on a national level.
“It’s wonderful having a chance to work with students that are really dedicated, hardworking and smart,” said Walsh.
During each mock trial year, students compete in invitational regional and national tournaments, and Walsh credits winning the award to his students’ perseverance.
“Anybody that gets into higher education to be a teacher looks forward to [working with dedicated students], and [the mock trial team] has just been above and beyond. It has really been my pleasure to do the last 13 years.”
Since Walsh has coached the team since its start, he has built strong relationships with the students. Devon Holstad, who graduated in 2011, was part of the team during all four years of his time at Loyola, and is now one of the assistant coaches for the team. Holstad said Walsh is an inspiring mentor, and no matter how much he has on his plate, he always supports his current and former students.
“He always finds time to make room for the people he cares about, and that’s how I try to model my coaching style,” Holstad said. “Since I’ve been a student of his, I’ve been able to look up at what he’s done, and I’m always trying to do things how he would do it, and I have learned to not only be a better coach and lawyer, but a better person.”
Holstad said Walsh has been there for him through the good and bad times, and is partially to thank for how he met his fiancée.
“When I was a sophomore, there was a freshman girl who joined the team and I didn’t really want her on my team, I didn’t know her, but Mr. Walsh put her on my team and basically said deal with it,” said Hostad. “We’ve been together now since 2008.”
Not only did Walsh help Holstad find his fiancée, he even officiated a wedding for two other former students.
“[Mock trial] is a community now,” said Walsh. “I don’t know how many students have gone through the program over the years, but I hear from a lot of them. I’ve been to a number of weddings, and it’s just fabulous to watch young, smart, hardworking people get their careers off the ground and become successful, contributing members of society.”
For junior Celeste Radogno, a current member of the Loyola Mock Trial team, it’s clear why Walsh won the award, for his dedication to not only Loyola’s program, but AMTA as a whole.
“There is never a tournament that I have been to where Coach Walsh isn’t thanked during closing ceremonies for all his help making the tournament run smoothly,” said the 21-year-old political science and international studies major.