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Professor Ed Telfeyan, Lilliana Udang, Jose Parra and Andia Farzaneh.

Professor Ed Telfeyan, with Appellate Advocate Award Winners Lilliana Udang, Jose Parra and Andia Farzaneh.

McGeorge Awards Recognize Student Excellence in Trial and Appellate Advocacy

May 17, 2017

Tags: Alumni, Centers of Distinction, Advocacy Center, Student Life, Competition Teams, 2017

McGeorge School of Law has earned a national reputation for the quality of its mock trial and moot court teams, which annually compete in the most prestigious intercollegiate national events. At the annual McGeorge Trial and Appellate Advocacy Awards Ceremony on April 27, 2017, graduating students were recognized for achievements during the 2016-2017 academic year.

U.S. News & World Report recognized the McGeorge Mock Trial Advocacy program as 10th in the nation in the 2018 Best Graduate School Guide, and the McGeorge Moot Court program is ranked 12th in the annual rankings compiled by the Blakely Advocacy Institute at the University of Houston Law Center for the 2016-2017 season.  

At the awards ceremony Heather Phillips received the 2017 Ferris-White Prize for Excellence in Trial Advocacy, funded by McGeorge alumni and former mock trial team stars R. Parker White, '80, and Noël Ferris, '79. Ferris and White's own experiences while Trial Advocacy students at McGeorge inspired them to create an annual prize for the graduating student who demonstrates consistently outstanding trial advocacy skills. The first annual Joseph E. Taylor Award for Excellence and Service was given to Ashley Pane, who served as this year's Chair of the Student Trial Advocacy Association. Michelle Ahronovitz was named the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) Student Trial Advocate of the Year. The Appellate Advocate of the Year award had a three-way tie and Lilliana Udang, Jose Parra and Andia Farzaneh were honored.

The McGeorge trial and Appellate Advocacy Program includes the Trial Advocacy courses (where students learn effective methods for presenting evidence and otherwise conducting the trial of a case), the Global Lawyering Skills II course (where students learn the process of presenting written and oral arguments in a case that begins at the trial court level and ends in an appeal), a Mock Trial Competition Program (for presentation of evidence at a trial), a Moot Court Competition Program (for presentation of written and oral arguments on appeal), and an Advanced Dispute Resolution (ADR) Competition Program (for alternative resolutions in litigation). 

Moot Court Competition Team Season Highlights

There were many highlights to the 2016-17 Moot Court competition season. The McGeorge School of Law team won the 2017 Roger J. Traynor California Appellate Moot Court Competition, held at McGeorge in April.  The Traynor competition is California's oldest and largest moot tournament. This is the second straight year, and fourth in the last six, that McGeorge has won the Traynor Competition. Third year law students José Parra, Conor Harkins, and KC Souza-Jenkins won the overall  competition and received the Witkin Award for Excellence in Appellate Advocacy.  The team also finished second in Best Brief and Best Oral Argument team awards. Parra tied for top oralist, Harkins tied for fifth best oralist, and Souza-Jenkins tied for eighth best oralist. Professor Hether Macfarlane coached the team with assistance from Professor Adrienne Brungess, Corrie Erickson Manning, '11, and student coach Wilson Bao, '17. Student Garrett Seuell was a research assistant for the team.

The McGeorge team of students Daniel Pickolick and Kyle Owen won at the National Cultural Heritage Moot Court Competition hosted by DePaul University College of Law in February. This is the second year in a row that a McGeorge team won the competition. Professor Jeff Proske served as coach for the teams with assistance from professor Ederlina Co, alumna Andrea Moon, '13, and student coach Anam Hasan. Two McGeorge teams advanced to the American Bar Association's National Appellate Advocacy Competition national tournament, held in Chicago in April. One team was comprised of Lilliana Udang, Anna Curry and Rainey Jacobson. The other team's members were Rosemary Deck and Michael Taney. This was the second straight year, and the fourth year of the past seven, that McGeorge placed both of its teams in the national finals. McGeorge was one of only two schools to send both of its teams to the finals this year. Professor Ed Telfeyan, Director of the McGeorge Moot Court Program, was assisted in coaching the teams by Professor Daniel Croxall, '08, Leo Moniz, '12, and student coach Navnit Bhandal. The fall season began with the Thomas Tang Western Regional, where KC Souza-Jenkins and Melissa Bocanegra won second-best brief. The strong semester continued when students Andia Farzaneh, Melissa Currier and Lilliana Udang advanced to sixth place in the New York National Moot Court Final Rounds. McGeorge has sent a team to the NY final competition for four of the past six years.

Mock Trial Competition Team Season Highlights

A McGeorge Mock Trial team advanced to the national championship round of the American Association for Justice National Student Trial Advocacy Competition, highlighting a strong spring 2017 campaign for the law school. Mike Jones, Alyssa Malinoski, Leslie Shergill and Kelli Tong fought to a ninth-place finish in the national finals held  in April in Cleveland. Keith Hill, '96, co-coach with Thien Ho, '98, accompanied the team to Ohio. Two-person teams -- Nicole Low/Gage Marchini and Heather Phillips/Michelle Ahronovitz -- scored well in a National Trial Competition regional in February in San Francisco. Coached by Jesse Saucedo, '11, and Jason Schaff, '06, both teams made it to the NTC semifinals. McGeorge hosted in the National Ethics Trial Competition in mid-March in Sacramento, and professor Jay Leach chaired the prestigious event. All three traveling Mock Trial teams earned national recognition in the Fall. Professor Cary Bricker, Program Director, stated this is one of the strongest Fall tournament showings for the McGeorge mock trial program in over 10 years.  

In October, Michelle Ahronovitz, Brittany Berzin, Alex Smith, and Nia Traylor advanced to the championship round of the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ) Trial Advocacy Competition in San Francisco, California.  Traylor received the Best Advocate Award.  Mike Jones, Gage Marchini, Albert Mendoza, and Leslie Shergill traveled to Buffalo, New York, for one of the largest national invitational competitions in the country, and advanced to the championship round.  The third team, consisting of Josh Hudson, Ashley Pane, Heather Phillips and Nicole Low, traveled to Los Angeles for the National Civil Trial Competition (NCTC), where the team made an impressive showing in the semi-final round.  The fall semester coaches included Keith Hill, '96, Thien Ho, '98, Jason Schaff '06, Alan Donato, '09, Jeff Schaff, '09, Jesse Saucedo, '11, David Norton, '13.  Teal Erickson, '13 and Courtney Martin, '13.  

Photos from the Trial & Appellate Advocacy 2017 Awards Ceremony

Trial Advocacy Awards 2017