Athens, Ga. – Recently, four University of Georgia School of Law teams earned the right to advance to the national round of three prestigious advocacy tournaments after strong performances in regional competitions.
Georgia Law Director of Advocacy Kellie Casey Monk said advocacy tournaments provide an excellent opportunity for law students to hone the oral skills they will utilize once they become attorneys. “The competitions are always tough and pit our students against some of the best in the nation. To learn that four teams will be advancing to national rounds of competition in one week is just phenomenal.”
In the regional National Trial Competition, held in Gainesville, Fla., two Georgia Law teams captured first place honors in their respective contest brackets and will move on to the NTC nationals. Both Georgia teams competed against 20 other teams from the region.
Monk said it is rare that two teams from the same school advance as co-champions. “I could not have been more proud of both. This is a milestone for our mock trial program!”
One winning team was composed of third-year students Michael J. Blakely, Kimberly M. Council and Mary E. “Betsy” Pierce, with second-year students Christopher M. Gant and Erin L. Hantske serving as witnesses. Third-year students Desmond W. Dorsey and Emily A. Poe, together with second-year students Jennifer D. “J.D.” Hart and John R. Thomas Jr. serving as witnesses, comprised the second team. Notably, Poe was named the tournament’s best advocate. The two teams will travel to Dallas, Tex., for the national round of competition to be held March 23-25.
Georgia Law advocacy teams competing in the Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial and the Frederick Douglass Moot Court regional tournaments, both held in North Carolina, will also go on to compete at the national level.
Finishing strong as first runner-up at the Marshall competition, third-year students Tiffany N. Carter and Carl E. Jones Jr. partnered with second-year students Kimberly R. Bourroughs and Jeffrey A. Reeves to beat teams from 27 other schools. The quartet will advance to the national round to be held next month in Washington, D.C. A second Georgia Law team, composed of third-year student Santana T. Flanigan and second-year students Monica R. Dean, T. Brian Jones and Yaminah K. Williams, also participated in the Marshall tournament.
In the Douglass competition, third-year student Candice V. Blain paired with second-year student Jimar A. Sanders to finish in third place, earning the right to proceed to the national tier of their tournament in Washington, D.C., in March. Additionally, second-year students Enjolique D. Aytch and Husniyyah R. Johnson finished as quarter-finalists, and both teams received best brief honors.
Student coaches for these teams include: third-year student Zachary S. Shewmaker for the National Trial Competition, third-year students Veronica L. Richardson and Brock Brockington for the Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Competition and third-year student W. Elliott Stiles for the Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition.
On February 10, the law school hosted its annual J. Ralph Beaird Closing Argument Competition, named for longtime law school dean and faculty member. As the tournament finalists, first-year students Scott R. Grubman and Cameron D. Hawkins presented closing arguments to a judge and jury of prominent law school alumni and faculty, including U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia Senior Judge Duross Fitzpatrick, Georgia Supreme Court Justice George H. Carley, Western Circuit Superior Court Judge Steve C. Jones, former Oconee County Juvenile Court Judge Sara M. McArthur and Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney Kenneth W. Mauldin. Hawkins was named the competition’s winner.
“First-year student competitions, such as the J. Ralph Beaird competition, allow students at the beginning of their law school careers to get a taste of what courtroom advocacy is all about,” Monk said. “It lets them see what sort of skills a successful litigator needs to possess and determine if they want to pursue that type of legal practice. On a personal note, it also provides me, as advocacy director, a peak at the upcoming talent that will become the future of Georgia Law’s winning advocacy program.”