Campbell Law claims record national, international advocacy competition titles

Photo of law school trial advocacy championship trophies and plaques

“Champions coaching champions” credited with spurring remarkable run, including latest win at the American Association of Justice

RALEIGH — Winning the national championship at the American Association of Justice (AAJ) Student Trial Advocacy Competition marked a historical moment in the life of Campbell Law School.

The April 14 victory marked the school’s third national title this spring. It followed March wins at the Constance Baker Motley National Trial Competition hosted by the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA) and the National ABA Client Counseling Championship — all firsts for Campbell Law. Team member Nichad Davis ’19 was also named best NBLSA advocate.

And when the dynamic duo of Tatiana Terry ’19 and Katie Webb ’19, coached by Professors Melissa Essary and Jon Powell (with the help of Professor Bobbi Jo Boyd), won the national Client Counseling, they earned the chance to go to the world competition in Dublin, Ireland. There they ultimately outscored 23 teams to become world champions at the Brown Mosten International Client Consultation Competition. Another first.

“This is an extraordinary accomplishment for our team and for our coaches,” Dean J. Rich Leonard said.

Over the past six years Campbell Law student advocates have amassed eight national championships, five national runners-up, nine national semifinalists, seven regional championships, and 17 national individual best advocate awards.

This unprecedented success is attributable to a number of recent developments, according to Professor Dan Tilly, who also serves as the law school’s director of advocacy.

The first is cultivating experienced coaches, he explained. The second is identifying and grooming the school’s top advocates.

“Our success has everything to do with building momentum,” Tilly said. “Former champions are now champion coaches and outstanding advocates are getting more opportunities than ever before to demonstrate their skills.”

As examples, Campbell Law Class of 2015 graduate and former Wallace Advocacy Fellow Kimberly Dixon coached the BLSA team to victory and the winning AAJ team was coached by 2017 Campbell Law graduate and former Campbell Law national trial team member and Top Gun champion Jacob Morse. Both are attorneys in Raleigh now.

“These talented student advocates set their eyes on the prize and put in the time, effort, and energy it takes to culminate a national championship feat,” Morse said. “The team excelled throughout the tournament, as their talented opponents had a hard time keeping them down in any aspect of the competition.  To bring this championship home is truly something special – not only for these students – but also for our advocacy program and Campbell University as a whole.”

“Simply Dominant”  

The unprecedented winning streak arrives during Campbell Law’s 10/40 celebration, marking the 40th anniversary of its first graduating class and 10th anniversary of its move to downtown Raleigh.  So it should come as no surprise that preLaw Magazine once again ranked Campbell Law among its Top Law Schools for Trial Advocacy in its Spring 2019 issue.

In addition to the world championship and three national titles, Campbell Law advocates also brought home the following awards this spring semester:

  • The team of second-year students Lydia Stoney, Kevin Littlejohn, and Ethan Carpenter and third-year student Anna Claire Turpin beat out a talented team from Wake Forest School of Law to win the AAJ regional competition. The same team that would eventually go on to win the national title was coached by Jacob Morse ’17, former Top Gun champion.
  • A Campbell Law team won the award for having the second best briefs in the entire competition (out of 18 teams)  at the Philip C. Jessup International Law Pacific Regional Moot Court Competition Feb. 28 – March 2 in Portland, Oregon. The team, coached by Professor Shawn Fields, included third-year students Derek Dittmar and Melanie Huffines and second-year student Destiney Parker-Thompson. Dittmar finished as the 17th top oral advocate out of 78 competitors.
  • The NBLSA mock trial competition started with 102 teams across six regions. In February, the Campbell Law team of Davis, Maurizo Lewis-Streit, Tatiana Terry, and Ashley Urquijo bested every single team they faced dominating the Southern Regional in Memphis, Tennessee. At the same time, they swept the individual awards. Urquijo received the award for best direct examination; Terry won best cross examination and the award for the best advocate in the regional competition.
  • Two Campbell Law teams took the first two spots at the American Bar Association Client Counseling Competition Region 4 on Feb. 15-17 at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The dynamic duos of third-year Campbell Law students offered outstanding showings at the competition, according to their coaches. Williams Britt and Skylar Gallagher formed one team,  and were coached by Zachary Anstett and Peter Borden, both 2018 graduates. Terry and Webb made up the second team.
  • Each Campbell Law team in the National Trial Regional Competition (NTC) Region V Mock Trial, held in Columbia, South Carolina, had one member win the Outstanding Advocate award; Carlie Spencer and Michaela Weber won this recognition. The team was coached by Maria Hawkins, a 2012 Campbell Law graduate and associate attorney at Miller Law Group.
  • Campbell Law advocates were named quarterfinalists at the South Texas Mock Trial Challenge and Michaela Weber won a coveted outstanding advocate award, out of more than 100 advocates in the competition held March 27-30 in Houston, Texas. It is the eighth straight year a Campbell Law trial advocate was named as one of the very finest, according to Tilly. The team — third-year student Hannah Wallace and second-year students Weber, Madeline Lipe,  and Adam Webb — was also coached by Casey Peaden, a 2017 Campbell Law graduate.
  • Campbell Law students participated in the fifth Estrella Mock Trial Competition (ETAC)  held April 6-7 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The team, coached by Tilly and Advocacy Wallace Fellow Morgan Pierce ’18, consisted of third-year students Ashley Urquijo, Rosa Reyes, and Alexandra Puszczynski and second-year student Jake Terrell. The team advanced to the final round where they came in second against George Washington University.

Dean Leonard added the law school would not be able to continue to send student advocates to these competitions across the country and the world if it was not for the generosity of their team sponsors, who included: Ward and Smith, P.A.; Marcari, Russotto, Spencer and Balaban; Riddle & Brantley, LLP; Law Offices of John M. McCabe, PA; and Anderson Jones, among others.