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Trial Team (Again) Wins Prestigious Tournament of Champions

2017 Tournament of Champions Winners Left to Right: Hunter McMullin, Abbie Heller, Jessica Falkenstein, Justin Bernstein, Najah Jacobs, Phil Pasquarello

November 06, 2017

Members of the Trial Team won the intensely competitive Tournament of Champions, hosted by Loyola Law School in Los Angeles Nov. 1-4, for the second consecutive year.

3Ls Phil Pasquarello, Najah Jacobs and Jessica Falkenstein and 2L Hunter McMullin represented the school at the competition, to which the National Board of Trial Advocacy invites just the 16 law schools with the best three-year record of success to take part.

For the second year in a row, Pasquarello was named Best Advocate in the Finals, though Jacobs was close on his heels for the title.

The team reached a total record of 18-2, while no other school won more than 12.

Professor Justin Bernstein, the associate director of Trial Advocacy who served as one of the team’s coaches, said the team is the first to win back-to-back victories in the tournament since the 1990s.

“This team won with sheer hard work,” Bernstein said. “Their work ethic, self-motivation and teamwork were inspiring.  The final round was their best round -- these students were afraid of nothing, and no one blinked under those bright lights.”

By the time they reach the tournament, most competitors have taken part in many previous mock trials, Bernstein said. He added, however, that Jacobs and Falkenstein had not competed until March, and McMullin had never before taken part in a mock trial.

Bernstein also credited alumna Abbie Heller, ’14, who also coached the team to this year’s championship and to last year’s victories at the Tournament of Champions as well as the American Association for Justice Student Trial Advocacy Competition.

“If there’s one common thread in the school’s recent trial successes, it’s Abbie,” he said.