The Courtroom is my Playfield: Moot Court news

By Varun Sabharwal, Entertainment Editor

California Western School of Law is home to an enviable history of producing fine oral advocates. From the tribulations of the jury box, to the finesse of standing at a lectern before judges of the Courts of Appeal, we’ve seen these advocates grow and learn. As members of the Moot Court Honors Board (MCHB), we’ve helped build the foundation for these advocates, when they were just law students. From organizing the Gafford competition for our 1L’s to administering the logistics for our competitive teams, at every step of the way, the MCHB has been there, ensuring that our school always puts its best foot forward.

Students excelled this trimester in both external (inter-school) and internal (intra-school) competitions:

External Competitions

Our Competitive Advocacy Program has produced outstanding attorneys. Our appellate, alternative dispute resolution, and trial teams outdid themselves at each competition they participated in this trimester.

Our appellate teams did exceedingly well at two competitions held this past month. Caitlin Van Voorst and Elizabeth Dimaano advanced to the top eight teams of the UC Davis Asylum & Refugee Law National Moot Court Competition, the only competition in the nation devoted solely to asylum and refugee law! Our competitors were truly standouts, winning the second-place Best Brief award ahead of Columbia Law. Van Voorst also won the third-place Top Oralist award in this competition held March 2-3 at the UC Davis campus.  

Jessup international law competitors Tim Daveler, Jason Jacobs, Jon Fuller, Karina Laigo, and Regina Calvario.

Jason Jacobs, Karina Laigo, Regina Calvario, Tim Daveler, and Jon Fuller competed in the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, the world’s oldest and arguably most prestigious international Moot Court competition. Teams compete in regional rounds held throughout the world. Our team participated at the Pacific regional rounds held in Portland, Oregon. The competitors were coached by Prof. Roberta Thyfault, Prof. William Aceves and Kate Clark. After grueling preliminaries, our team made it to quarterfinals and won 6th best memorial overall!

Our ADR teams also had a busy competition season. Two teams participated in Thomas Jefferson School of Law’s National Sports Law Negotiation Competition on March 29-31. Veteran competitors Jessica Colburn and Jacquelyne Crockett competed together, as did new competitors Sheldon Coure and Cinthya Rivera. Both teams tied for fifth place out of 32 teams nationally!

Colburn and Crockett also competed in the California Lawyers Association’s Environmental Negotiations Competition held March 8-10 at Golden Gate University in San Francisco.

Shayota and Zora

Two of our trial teams competed in the Texas Young Lawyers Association’s National Trial Competition (TYLA) in Santa Ana from Feb. 8-10. Our first team, coached by  Jason Conge and Lindsey Willard, consisted of Abrey Zora and Amanda Shayota with Rachel Sirany as the designated witness. Our second team, coached by Anthony Vargas and Danica Wahl with Clayton Carr as Head Advisor, consisted of Taylor Castro and Melissa Mueller-Owens with Saba Salamatian as the designated witness.

Melissa Owens, Saba Salamatian, and Taylor Castro

CWSL also sent two teams to compete in the American Association for Justice Student Trial Advocacy Competition (AAJ) from Feb. 28 to March 3 at the Santa Monica Courthouse. Our first team, coached by Taylor Gaines, Chris Escamilla and Assistant Coach Charlotte Najar, was represented by Adam Bucci, Elizabeth Hebel, Schaeffer Whitaker, and Summer Shafer. Our second team, coached by Chris Lee and Taylor Williams, was represented by Colby Ryan, Ross Harper, Vincent Sorrentino and Rayna Kim.

Internal Competitions

Edward Grichanik and Nicolas Ahadzadeh won first place in CWSL’s internal ADR competition.

MCHB hosted four significant intra-school events this trimester. The first was the Gafford trial competition for 1Ls, held in February. The second was the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) competition held Feb. 25-26. Competitors were assigned clients on both sides of a negotiation based on an elaborate and detailed fact pattern. They were then asked to negotiate on behalf of their clients and strike the best deal possible. At the finals, Nicolas Ahadzadeh and Edward Grichanik were awarded first place, and Chae Kim and Crystal Tejeda were awarded second place. In addition, Ahadzadeh and Tejeda were named Distinguished Advocates.

The third event was the Legal Skills II Competition held March 11-14, which involved all of the second-semester 1Ls. The competition simulated an appeal before the fictional Twelfth Circuit and dealt with constitutional issues of school speech. The preliminaries saw our freshmen deliver nuanced and eloquent arguments. Ten students moved on to the finals. In the end, Jennifer Solano was awarded first place, Samantha Tumminello was awarded second place, and Kathryn Callaghan was awarded third place. Kelsey Hamlett, Javier Valencia, and Varun Sabharwal were also named Distinguished Advocates for their zealous performances in the final round.

The Gill Competition, another flagship event for the MCHB, was held March 24. Competitors were given a fictional fact pattern and asked to write either an opening or closing argument. After heated preliminaries and an equally exciting final round, Arlena Parmar was awarded first place, Danielle Piskor second, and Ash Kargaran third place for their exemplary advocacy skills. In addition, Kristen Rosenthal, Mary Korkodian, Sara Bloch, Alex Edrenkin, Oday Yousif, Michelle Perry, and Krista Walker, and Maricela Leon were named Distinguished Advocates for their performances.

MCHB President Michelle Kellogg commented, “The MCHB is proud of all our competitors and grateful for their contributions to CWSL’s advocacy programs. The MCHB is also proud to provide professional growth opportunities and to help students achieve the zenith of their potential. We wish everyone luck in the coming semesters and hope to see you all in future competitions.”

For information about Moot Court Honors Board, email

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