Campbell Law wins AAJ National Championship

Photo of National Championship AAJ team members posing and their coach Jacob Morse '17

RALEIGH — A Campbell Law team of student advocates has won the national championship at the American Association of Justice (AAJ) Student Trial Advocacy Competition which took place April 11–14 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

After claiming the Raleigh regional championship title in early March to punch their ticket into the national competition, third-year student Anna Claire Turpin and second-year students Lydia Stoney, Kevin Littlejohn, and Ethan Carpenter defeated cohort regional champions UC-Boulder (Denver, Colorado, region); Belmont University (Louisville, Kentucky, region); University of Alabama (Birmingham, Alabama, region); Stetson University (West Palm Beach, Florida, region); and University of Akron (Cleveland, Ohio, region) to claim the 2019 national title.

“Their performance was simply dominant,” said Professor Dan Tilly, who traveled to Philadelphia in the wee hours prior to the championship round to be there to support the team in the final round. “Campbell Law decisively won every contest, dropping only two judge’s ballots of eighteen throughout the entirety of the tournament to remain the only unbeaten team in a highly competitive field.  That level of success is nothing short of a major accomplishment.”

The championship run was the third time Campbell Law has competed at the AAJ Student Trial Advocacy Competition national tournament since 2011, but is the first time that the school has claimed a national title.  The national championship victory is the third such championship that the law school has won this year, which is also a first.  

Dean J. Rich Leonard said, “This victory alone is an historical accomplishment for our school, but it also solidifies a remarkable season for our advocacy program that we will cherish for years to come.  We are so proud.”

The team was coached by 2017 Campbell Law graduate and former Campbell Law national trial team member Jacob Morse, an attorney at Wyrick Robbins Yates & Ponton in Raleigh.  Morse stated, “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.  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.”

The AAJ Student Trial Advocacy Competition seeks to inspire excellence in trial advocacy through training and education for both law students and practicing attorneys.  The Association accomplishes this goal in part by sponsoring the Student Trial Advocacy Competition, an annual nationwide mock trial competition. The competition is an exceptional opportunity for law students to develop and practice their trial advocacy skills before distinguished members of the bar and bench.

Marcari, Russotto, Spencer and Balaban sponsored the winning team of student advocates. The firm’s generosity provided financial assistance for the students’ preparation, travel, and lodging as they competed for the national championship.

“Macari, Russotto, Spencer and Balaban has been a fabulous supporter of our advocacy program, and we are extremely appreciative of the firm’s decision to assist our students for another competition,” Dean Leonard said. “This opportunity was immensely beneficial for our students, and gave our first-rate advocacy program even more national exposure.”

Don Marcari is a 1985 graduate of Campbell Law and senior managing partner at his firm, Marcari, Russotto, Spencer and Balaban. He first gained national attention when his exploits as a young defense attorney with the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps became the basis for the motion picture “A Few Good Men.” He has been fighting for seriously injured people throughout North Carolina since 1985, and Virginia since 1988, concentrating on plaintiff personal injury law and civil litigation. In addition, he handles veteran benefits claims and continues to defend select members of our military service in courts martial and administrative proceedings.


Since its founding in 1976, Campbell Law has developed lawyers who possess moral conviction, social compassion, and professional competence, and who view the law as a calling to serve others. Among its accolades, the school has been recognized by the American Bar Association (ABA) as having the nation’s top Professionalism Program and by the American Academy of Trial Lawyers for having the nation’s best Trial Advocacy Program. Campbell Law boasts more than 4,200 alumni, who make their home in nearly all 50 states and beyond. Throughout 2019, Campbell Law is celebrating 40 years of graduating legal leaders and 10 years of being located in a state-of-the-art facility in the heart of North Carolina’s Capital City.