St. John's, Hofstra Make Finals in Trial Competition

Fordham Law School in New York Law Journal, March 02, 2012

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Students from St. John's University School of Law and the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University will head to Austin, Texas, this month to take part in the finals of the 37th Annual National Trial Competition after their teams were named co-champions of a regional competition last month. Eighteen teams from nine New York law schools competed in the regional rounds of the competition that took place at state Supreme Court in Mineola Feb. 9 through 11. Both teams from Hofstra advanced to the regional finals, with one defeating a team from Fordham University School of Law to advance while the other was knocked off by a team from St. John's.

The National Trial Competition, co-sponsored by the Texas Young Lawyers Association and the American College of Trial Lawyers, was established in 1975 to help law students strengthen their advocacy skills. The top two teams from each of 14 regional tournaments advance to the national championship rounds. The regional round in New York is sponsored by the New York State Bar Association, which will present the Tiffany Cup to the regional winner that advances farthest in the national finals.

This year's regional round was hosted by Hofstra and coordinated by Frank Gulino, Hofstra's director of student advocacy programs. Sitting judges and practicing attorneys served as presiding judges and evaluators, with Eastern District Judge John Gleeson (See Profile) and Bronx Acting Supreme Court Justice Ann Donnelly (See Profile) presiding over the final two trials of the regional tournament.

The winning team from Hofstra consisted of first-year Kaitlyn Flynn, second-year George Michel, and third-year Laura Kitchen. The team was coached by adjunct faculty members Jared Rosenblatt, Gerard McCloskey and Lee Bergstein. St. John's top team was made up of Kaitlin McTague, Lena Paxos and Anthony Scotti. It was coached by Brian Hughes and Kirk Sendlein.

A number of awards for individual advocacy were handed out after the competition. Ms. Paxos was named best advocate, while Ms. Flynn received best opening statement and Ms. Kitchen was awarded best direct and cross examination. Brendan Alt from Pace Law School won best closing statement and best advocate among students not advancing to the semifinals. Mr. Rosenblatt was awarded best coach.

Other schools that took part in the competition included Brooklyn Law School, Cornell Law School, Syracuse University College of Law, University at Buffalo Law School and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.