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Trial Team Triumphs – Again!

December 18, 2012

For the second year in a row, members of the Trial Team brought back trophies that confirm the school’s rising reputation as a star in the firmament of mock trial competitions.

At a recent celebration, team members showed off the trophies they’d earned at two competitions in October.

Racquel Hubbs and Josef Mensah, both 3Ls, won the Judge Paul Joseph Kelly Jr. Invitational Trial Competition, hosted by Fordham Law School. In addition to winning the overall competition, Hubbs was named Best Advocate in the Final Round, while Mensah took the Best Advocate prize in the Preliminary Rounds.

Abbie Heller, Stephen Kulp, Jasleen Singh and Haley Welch were semi-finalists in the Peter James Johnson National Civil Rights Trial Competition, held at St. John’s University.

The students show tremendous dedication, spending up to 16 hours each week preparing for competitions, said Matt Leckman, a partner at Pogust, Braslow and Millrood who coached Heller, Kulp, Singh and Welch.

Team coach Royce W. Smith, an associate with Feldman Shepherd, said Hubbs and Mensah “owned the courtroom” and have “absolutely no quit in either of them.”

Competing for a second year has enabled 3Ls on the team to move from recognizing their own styles to modifying them, Kulp said.

The experience that comes from competition translates into real-life practice, Welch said, noting that her supervisor in her Civil Litigation Clinic was pleasantly surprised to discover that she already knows how to authenticate an exhibit for trial.

The team’s success has turned heads among other law schools, said Professor Gwen Stern, who directs the Trial Advocacy Program. In the four years since the team began competing, Stern noted, the school has been invited to some of the nation’s most exclusive contests, including the Top Gun National Mock Trial Competition, in which just 16 individuals take part.

Last year, the team’s triumphs included:

  • Winning the Texas Young Lawyers Association Regional Competition
  • Advancing to the final four in the TYLA National Trial Team Competition
  • Reaching finals in the American Association of Justice Student Trial Advocacy Regional Competition

“This confirms that we are a force to be reckoned with,” Stern said. “Our program is second to none.”