Loyola’s Scott Moot Court Program capped a year of prominent wins at prestigious competitions by making it all the way to the final round of the American Bar Association's National Appellate Advocacy Competition, the largest moot court competition in the country. The victory came on the heels of other important victories: a regional win in the National Appellate Advocacy Competition and top oralist honors at the Roger J. Traynor California Appellate Moot Court Competition.
Loyola’s second-place finish at the National Appellate Advocacy Competition included several honors. Katie Tanaka ’16 won ninth best oralist in the nation, and Nima Jalali ’16 received a rare perfect 100 during a round. The team progressed all the way to the final round, where they narrowly lost in a split decision.
The ABA team’s path to the finals at the Chicago federal courthouse included an undefeated run at the regional championship held Feb. 27-28. The team entered the final round in first place out of 32 teams. With its win at the Las Vegas federal courthouse, Loyola’s team bested upwards of 180 teams from more than 120 ABA-approved law schools to earn a spot in the national finals. In addition to winning the competition, the team of Maximillian Casillas ’16, Jalali and Tanaka won the prize for second best brief.
Also at the ABA regionals, the team of Yungmoon Chang ’16, Alexis Cruz ’16 and Brett Moore ’16 won the fourth-place brief prize. Chang received the prize for top oralist in the region, besting more than 60 other competitors, giving Loyola the top oralist honor for the second consecutive year.
At the Traynor Competition, held April 2-3 at the Fresno federal courthouse, Diane Chang ’17, Grace Lau’16 and Saam Takaloo ’16 continued extended Loyola’s streak of winning top oralist honors . Competing against 18 other California law schools, Lau won best oralist – the sixth consecutive year that a Loyola student has earned the award. The team was coached by Erin Dunkerly '07.
“Loyola has only continued to build upon its past successes and has solidified its national reputation as one of the dominant players to beat on the law school moot court circuit,” said Rebecca Delfino, faculty advisor, Loyola’s Moot Court Program. “Loyola's winning legacy is not only a tribute to the students who have competed, but also to Loyola's Appellate Advocacy Program in general – from the first year research and writing class, to the Appellate Advocacy Course, to the Scott Moot Court Competition and the Summer Brief Writing Seminar conducted specifically for the Scott Moot Court Honors Board.”
In order to prepare for the competition, Scott Moot Court team members participated in an advanced writing seminar over the summer and worked on their briefs from November through early January. The teams prepared their oral arguments from January through February by arguing before panels of guest judges, which included faculty and practitioners. Students received one-on-one coaching throughout the competition by alumni, including Anna Milunas ‘12, Alexander Ray ’13 and Joel Richlin ’06. This preparation culminated with an exhibition on campus where the teams presented their arguments to practitioners from the top appellate firm Greines, Martin, Stein & Richland, LLP. Throughout the course of the competition, teams briefed and argued a hypothetical case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Participating in the Scott Moot Honors Board has been a truly valuable experience. The program pushes your advocacy skills to the highest level that you could possibly imagine,” said Casillas ’16. The program is open to both day and evening students, who are eligible to apply after completing Appellate Advocacy class with a grade of B or better. Students receive academic credit for their participation in the program.
Many Loyola professors assisted in competition preparation by serving as practice judges. Those include Professors Brietta Clark, Gary Craig, Victor Gold, Stanley Goldman ’79, Gail Ivens, Sean Kennedy ’89, Kevin Lapp, Laurie Levenson, Paula Mitchell ’03, Priscilla Ocen, Samuel Pillsbury, Katie Pratt, Sean Scott, Katherine Trisolini and Joe Trigilio, as well as Graham Sherr, assistant dean for employer engagement.
U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 edition of “America’s Best Graduate Schools” ranked Loyola No. 8 in Trial Advocacy. Loyola’s Trial Advocacy program has been ranked in the top 10 nationally for nine of the last 11 years. Other moot court squads include the Byrne Trial Advocacy Team, whose recent victories include the elite Tournament of Champions and the National Civil Trial Competition.