University of Arizona Law Students Shine in National, Regional Legal Skills Competitions

April 27, 2022

Check out the highlights from this year’s advocacy competitions.

Each year, students at University of Arizona Law compete in local, regional and national moot court and mock trial competitions, giving them the opportunity to put their advocacy skills to the test beyond the classroom. Check out the highlights from this year’s competitions:  

Giles S. Rich Moot Court Competition

Jake Israelsen (3L) and James Rollins (3L), competed in the virtual regional round of the competition, advancing to the national competition and winning best appellate brief in the region. Israelsen and Rollins will compete against nine other law-school teams from across the country in the national rounds beginning April 13.  

The Rich competition presents problems directed to patent law and related litigation issues. Since it first participated in the competition in 2016, the University of Arizona Law team, coached by Professor of Practice Ron Brown, has experienced considerable success, winning best appellate brief in two out of the last three years and reaching the regional finals and advancing to the national competition in both of the last two years.   

Jeffrey G. Miller National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition

The University of Arizona Law team of Darya Anderson (3L), Marley Grosskopf (2L), and Lauren Swol (3L), argued on behalf of a different party in each round of this competition, expertly handling complex questions on four environmental issues. Grosskopf was named “best oralist” in both of the two rounds she argued.   

The team enjoyed excellent preparation and advice from several faculty members, including Kirsten Engel, Robert Glennon, and Priya Sundareshan. The team also received support from several local and visiting environmental lawyers, and a few former team members— Alexandra Klass, Michael LeBlanc, Bruce Plenk, Ashley Caballero-Daltrey (’20), and Harry Yadav (3L)—who all volunteered as practice judges and provided invaluable feedback.   

Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition

Madeline Gegg (2L), Tyler Malm (2L), Blaize Boles (2L) and Katerina Grainger (2L)—competed in the (virtual) Phillip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition regional round in late February. Administered by the International Law Students Association, the Jessup draws competitors from more than 700 law schools in more than 100 countries. The competition involves a dispute between two fictional countries before the International Court of Justice and requires the students to learn and argue complex issues of public international law. The University of Arizona Law team earned high scores from the judges on their written memorials and their oral arguments, and came “maddeningly close to advancing,” in the words of the team’s coach, Professor Shirley Spira.   

ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition

The College of Law’s ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition teams participated in the virtual Oklahoma City regional round in early March. Both teams reached the semi-final round. The team of Neal Brubaker (3L), Joe DeFino (3L), and Liam Martin (3L) won third place in the region for their brief and earned some notably high oral-argument scores. The team of Daniel Bowman (3L), Ben Myer (3L), and Rachel Romaniuk (3L) also wrote a solid brief and scored well in oral argument, with Romaniuk receiving a perfect score during one round.  

Special thanks go to the many faculty members and alumni who helped prepare the teams, including former NAAC team members Kristine Alger (‘14), Troy Anderson (‘17), Holly Bainbridge (‘18), Jim Carlson (‘16), Ashley Daltrey (‘20), Kate Hollist (‘16), Aaron Green (‘19), Janet Howe (‘17), Nick Knauer (‘11), Rachael Lopez (‘20), Matt Maerowitz (‘13), Kelly Mull ('20), Vince Redhouse (‘21), Michael Shumway (‘13), Ashley Silberhorn (‘12), Emily Tyson-Jorgenson (‘15), Bern Velasco (‘17), and Jayme Weber (‘15); faculty members Tessa Dysart, Sylvia Lett, Diana Newmark, Diana Simon, and Carolyn Williams; and retired faculty member Suzanne Rabe (‘79).   

Native American Law Student Association Moot Court Competition

University of Arizona Law sent three teams to this year’s National NALSA Moot Court Competition, hosted by the University of Colorado Law School. Coached by Professor Heather Whiteman

Runs Him and Professor Pilar Thomas, the teams put in many hours of preparation and practice, engaging with a challenging problem that involved issues including treaty rights, religious freedom to sacred site access, and the application of international instruments to domestic law questions.   

The team of Andie Sweeden (3L) and Hannah Goins (3L) advanced to the Sweet 16 round, and the other two teams—Dillon Dobson (3L) and Daniel Hartman-Strawn (3L), and Stephanie Monroe (3L) and Ontario Duley (2L)—also did a fantastic job presenting their arguments and gained valuable advocacy experience.   

National Trial Team Regional Competition

Six members of the Barry Davis Trial Team competed in the National Trial Team Regional Competition in Las Vegas in February 2022. Twenty teams from Northern California, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico constitute the region. Established in 1975, the National Trial Competition is the oldest and most widely respected law student trial competition in the country. It attracts teams from more than 140 law schools in 15 different regions and involves more than 1,000 law students every year.  

Team 1, with members Clarissa Todd (3L), Neal Brubaker, and Sean Aiken (3L) advanced to the final round, losing to UC Berkeley. Team 2, with members Max Larnerd (2L), Rachel Romaniuk, and Vincent Yesue (3L), narrowly missed advancing to the finals and finished in 9th place.  

Other members of the popular mock trial team, who did not compete but assisted in practices, were: Haley Stewart (2L), Derek Kilgore (2L), Joey Ramos-Mata (3L), Ke’Vion Pinckney (3L), Roy Wang (2L), and Sarah Gerstel (2L).  

Brian Chase ('11) and Travis McGivern, themselves former trial team members, coached this year's team. Robson Hauser ('14) helped organize the event, hosted at UNLV.  

Richard Grand Closing Argument Competition

Five students competed in the final round of the Richard Grand Closing Argument Competition, an intramural event at University of Arizona Law. Winning first place and $2,500 in prize money was Sean Aiken. Max Larnerd finished second winning $1,500. Third place and $500 was awarded to Neal Brubaker. Clarissa Todd and Rachel Romaniuk, both third-year students, each won $250 and received honorable mention.  

The Grand Competition was established in 1995 by the late Richard Grand (‘58), a Tucson-area plaintiffs’ attorney. Competitors present closing jury arguments on damages in a hypothetical case. The monetary awards are made possible by Grand’s widow Marcia Grand. Special thanks to Professors of Practice Laura Udall, Julie Sottosanti, and Dan South (BA ‘05) for judging the final round.

Samuel M. Fegtly Moot Court Competition

The final round of the Fegtly Moot Court Competition was held April 12 with finalists Tyler Michalowski (3L) and Joseph Rousos-Hammond (2L) arguing before a three judge panel consisting of Judge Chad Readler, Judge John Hinderaker ('96), and Ms. Roopali Desai ('05). In a close round, Rousos-Hammond won best oralist. Semifinalists included Katerina Grainger and Haley Stewart. Rousos-Hammond was also the winner of the Suzanne Rabe Award for Best Brief as well as the Samuel M. Fegtly Award for the best combined score for brief writing and oral arguments in the preliminary rounds. Other awards include:

Excellence in Oral Argument:

  • Brien Brockbank (3L)
  • Lauren Swol
  • Katerina Grainger
  • Robert Teuton (2L)
  • Derek Kilgore
  • Vinny Venkat (2L)
  • Tyler Michalowski
  • Haley Stewart

Honorable mention for achievement in brief writing:

  • Lauren Swol
  • Katerina Grainger
  • Robert Teuton
  • Derek Kilgore
  • Tyler Michalowski
  • Joseph Rousos-Hammond
  • Sonum Dixit (2L)
  • Alyssa Dormer (2L)

The Fegtly Moot Court Competition is an appellate advocacy competition open to students who have taken or are taking Advanced Legal Writing. Students participate in practice arguments with Moot Court Board members and then compete in scored rounds judged by local attorneys and judges. The competition is supported by alumnus Scott Burns ('76) in honor of his father, F. Britton Burns, Sr. ('41).