BY CLINTON DICK
A team from Harvard Law School this past weekend won the regional tournament in the National Student Trial Advocacy Competition, sponsored by the American Trial Lawyers Association. This win came despite the fact that the HLS team was late in coming together and has only been preparing for the past two weeks.
“Our win showed how Harvard students are really good procrastinators,” says 2L Rebecca Parker, one of the team members. “Up to a month ago Harvard did not have a team.” Former team members came together to act as coaches, advisers, and in the case of 3L Rick Su, to again compete in the Trial Advocacy competition. Su was a 1L member when the HLS team won nationals.
Each team is comprised of four students and a handful of advisers or coaches, some former team members and others law school faculty. Harvard Law School is unique among the participants in that there are no faculty members advising the team and, unlike many participating schools, HLS does not give academic credit for participating.
Students familiar with Ames or Moot Court will find quite a contrast with the Trial Advocacy Competition. While currently all students at this school have been exposed to the FYL experience of brief writing, there is no need for such valuable skills in this competition. Instead the civil action is argued before a mock jury. Says 3L and team member Jarrad Wright, “It is different arguments than Moot Court because you are arguing to a jury and not an appellate court. You have to put things in layman’s terms.”
Each team must be prepared to argue either for the plaintiff or the defendant, depending on the selection process. One-L Rebecca Weksberg competed in every round and was singled out by Parker as the team’s “star.”
The competition is open to law schools nationwide and is held at fourteen regional locations throughout the country. Regional winners advance to the national round held in West Palm Beach, Florida.