Student members of Fordham Law’s Brendan Moore Trial Advocacy Center have, over the past three weeks, notched a quartet of rousing successes in national competition.
Since the beginning of March, teams of Moore Advocates have won second place at the Florida State University College of Law Mock Trial Competition, entered the quarterfinals at the American University Washington College of Law’s Capitol City Challenge, finished second at the American Bar Association National Criminal Justice Trial Competition, and taken first place at the American Association for Justice’s Student Trial Advocacy Competition New York Regional.
The team that won the AAJ competition’s New York Regional—students Elias Laris ‘18, Meredith McBride ‘18, Elizabeth Moore ‘18, and Tom Sperber ‘18, as well as alumni coaches Brittany Russell ‘13 and Mike Hardin ‘14—will face off against 13 other regional champions at the competition’s national tournament, beginning on March 30 in Cleveland, Ohio.
“What makes our team unique is that each member not only is willing to work so incredibly hard but also is so naturally gifted, and they all have such great personalities, which comes through in their advocacy skills,” said Russell.
The AAJ competition called on the winning team, one of two Fordham Law sent to the contest, to balance technical knowledge with a forceful presentation in arguing both sides of a personal injury civil lawsuit.
“I think we have a great team synergy,” said Laris. “It works well to have us working as one whole unit in determining how to go up there and do the best we can.”
In Tallahassee, Moore Advocates secured second place honors in the FSU College of Law Mock Trial Competition. Alumni Mike Higgins ’08 and Justina Rivera ’10 coached a team composed of Caitlin Ross ‘17, Vin Hua ’17, Devavrat Chaudhary ‘17, and Jeremy Krebs ’18 toward securing a $1,000 prize. With its runner-up performance, the team came close to repeating Fordham’s championship showing from last year’s FSU Mock Trial Competition.
“The FSU Mock Trial competition was an incredible opportunity to solidify my advocacy skills and appreciate the value of teamwork,” Ross said. “Thanks to my coaches, I felt prepared to take on any potential legal argument, and our team was primed to build on each person’s strengths to move ahead.”
In Washington D.C., a team of Moore Advocates reached the quarterfinals from a field of 20 teams in the American University Washington College of Law’s Capitol City Challenge. Anthony Freemen ‘17, Katherine Peluso ’18, Daron Ravenborg ’17, and Kathleen Dallon ’18 secured an invitation to next year’s competition by serving as the defense and prosecution teams, respectively, in a mock trial problem involving the theft of a diamond necklace from a gala.
In addition to the team’s success, Dallon was individually honored with the competition’s Best Prosecution Advocate Award, one of only two individual honors granted to participants.
“Katie did an excellent job,” said Bernard Ozarowski ‘10, who co-coached the team with wife and fellow Fordham alumna Lily Ozarowski ‘12. “She’s very, very poised. She comes off as calm and confident, and presents extremely well to an evaluator, and that suggests that down the line she’s going to present extremely well to real juries.”
A team of four Moore Advocates also took second place at the ABA National Criminal Justice Trial Competition in Chicago. Ted Becker ‘17, Brianna Gallo ‘17, Gabriel Reale ‘17, and Shrey Sharma ‘17, under the tutelage of alumni coaches Zachary Green ’14 and Cheryl McDermott ’07, distinguished themselves from a field of 20 trial advocacy teams. This particularly selective competition drew its participants from some of the top law schools in the country, pitting Fordham’s Moore Advocates against law students from universities such as Georgetown, Northwestern, and Temple.
“Our achievements this semester were the result of countless hours of brainstorming, performance, critique and revision. We believe that success at trial is achieved through a combination of talent and relentless preparation.” said Adam Shlahet, the Moore Advocacy Center’s full-time director. “Our faculty, coaches, and alumni instill in our students a work ethic that is second to none.”
In addition to hosting two mock trial competitions per year at Fordham Law, the Moore Advocates compete each year in up to 20 inter-school trial advocacy competitions, which draw from law school teams across the country.