Fordham Law’s Brendan Moore Trial Advocates, which contributed to the recent ranking of the School’s trial advocacy program as No. 12th in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, won victories in several noteworthy competitions. Three teams advanced to semifinals; one team won second place; and one team’s member achieved a top defense advocacy award.
In the Florida State National Civil Mock Trial Competition, 3Ls Shaunna Lazzaro and Lawton Wakefield and 2Ls Mary Cate Simeone and Dmitri Gelfand won second place. The case argued was matter of civil racketeering, in which a plaintiff who suffered a car accident got caught up in a five-year-old scam. The team lost by a narrow margin, ultimately taking home silver, along with a $1000 check.
“We were very proud of them,” said Matt Stein ’12, who co-coached the team with Rishi Gupta ’13. “They all exceeded expectations.”
Like the Florida team, all of the teams were coached by alumni who mentor students and share their expertise.
“We wanted it for them as much as they wanted it for us,” said 2L Leanne Fornelli of her coaches and teammates. Along with 2Ls Lauren Riddell, Daniel Humphrey, and Valerie Sakellaridis, Fornelli competed in the American Association for Justice Student Trial Advocacy Competition, New York Regional, under the coaching of Zachary Green ’14 and James Moore ’15. The team’s case involved a plaintiff who, after a car crash, sued the other driver’s doctor for failing to report his seizures. A testament to the team’s dedication and professionalism, Sakellaridis competed while suffering from the flu, winning both of her preliminary rounds. The team advanced to the semifinals.
The team of 2Ls Megi Belegu, Yena Hong, and Aishling Fitzpatrick, along with 3L Miranda Onnen, competed in the Capitol City Challenge hosted by American University’s Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C. Their coaches were Gabriel Mendoza ’11 and Graham Amodeo ’13. Their case involved a contract dispute, in which a film producer sued an actor for leaving, though the defendant maintained she left because abusive conditions made the job intolerable. Belegu bested 95 other competitors to win Best Overall Defense Advocate.
At the Texas Young Lawyers Association National Trial Competition, New York Regional, 3Ls Elias Laris and Tom Sperber advanced to the semifinals. They were coached by Jeff Briem ’05, Brittany Russel ’13, and Mike Hardin ’14 for a civil case involving a man who was electrocuted while illegally collecting grain from a train car.
“Our coaches were such a help,” said Laris. “They took so much time out of their schedules to work with us.”
Finally, the team of 3Ls Christina Awad, Colette Carman, Elizabeth Moore, and Katherine Peluso competed in the ABA Criminal Justice Trial Competition, one of the most prestigious and selective trial competitions in the country, in Chicago. They were coached by Molly Gallivan ’01 and Kate Flatley ’15. Arguing a case that involved an apparent attempt to bomb a federal building, the team advanced to semifinals, narrowly losing a split-decision ballot by two points to the eventual champion of the tournament.
“All four of the women were exceptional and such a pleasure to coach,” said Gallivan. “Their performance was a wonderful testament to the team’s talent, but also to Fordham’s trial advocacy program.”