2013–14 Trial Team Captures National Championships, Missouri Attorney General’s Cup

The 2013–14 Trial Team is among the most competitive lawyering skills teams in the country, having won two national championships and the coveted Missouri Attorney General’s Cup so far this season. 

The team’s first national title, the National Institute of Trial Advocacy’s 2013 Tournament of Champions, provided a dramatic setting for the team. Students took turns playing prosecution and defense in a test case based on the 1962 bombing of an African American church by members of the Ku Klux Klan in Birmingham, Alabama. The competition was especially poignant as it took place in Birmingham, with the lead defense counsel from the 1962 case serving as one of the judges.  

Making the proceedings even more powerful, some of actual the photos and audiotape from 1962 were used in the test case. The competition judge who had worked in the original case said that third-year student StanleyThompson “gave a better closing for the defendant” than he himself had more than half a century ago. 

Others on the team were third-year law students Pallavi Garg, Katherine Coleman, and Cortney VanOstran. The team was coached by Judge David C. Mason, JD ’83, and Mark Rudder, JD ’91. It is common for alumni to serve as coaches or judges in law school trial competitions. 

The team’s second national championship was the Tenth ABA Labor and Employment Law Student Trial Advocacy Competition (ABA/LEL), held in San Francisco. 

Third-year law students James Miao, Erika Wurst, and Elad Gross teamed up with second-year law student Maebetty Kirby to defeat the other ABA/LEL regional champions and go undefeated at the national finals. The Hon. Bernice Donald, judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, presided over the ABA/LEL championship trial, while Judge Mason coached the team with the assistance of attorneys David Fahrenkamp Chris Hoell, Jennifer Hofman, and Rudder. 

Washington University had earned the right to go to the national finals by winning the Chicago Regional competition in November, where attorneys Jessica Liss and Amy White of the national labor and employment firm JacksonLewis LLP provided expert evaluations of their case theories and strategies.  

“The help we received from Ms. Liss and her associate proved to be a crucial part of our winning execution in the courtroom,” said Judge Mason. 

Finally, the Missouri Attorney General’s Cup Team of second-year law students Keenen Twymon and Kirby won the 4th Missouri Attorney General’s Cup Trial Competition in Jefferson City. They were again coached by Judge Mason, with attorneys Hofman and Rudder assisting. Third-year students Katie Coleman, Garg, and Stanley Thompson helped the students in Jefferson City. Third-year student Sarah Crites and second-year student Randall Brachman also competed as a team.  

“For any incoming law student who wants to be a litigator, being on the Trial Team is absolutely the most rewarding and helpful activity,” Garg says. “The most challenging part of being on the team is the dedication and time it requires.”