The UCLA School of Law Trial Team qualified for the national championships in the American Bar Association's Labor and Employment Trial Competition by winning the tournament's West Coast regional competition on Sunday, Nov. 18. And that wasn't even UCLA Law's biggest accomplishment of the weekend, as three UCLA Law teams made the semi-finals of the tournament. This represents the first time in the 15 years of the ABA competition that three teams from the same school advanced to the regional semi-finals.
UCLA Law originally entered two teams in the weekend competition at the federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles.
But shortly before the event the ABA announced it needed one more team to have an even number of competitors in the field. So UCLA volunteered to send a third team—even though team members would have only nine days to prepare when everyone else had more than 60 days.
"It was a busy week," said Margret Flodeen '19, a member of UCLA Law's third team. "We had to learn the entire fact pattern, plus prepare opening statements, direct and cross examinations, closing arguments, and motions in limine. It was a lot of work, but I really wanted to do a trial competition before I graduated."
The semifinalists included the three UCLA Law teams and a team from Baylor University. The winning team included Delaram Kamalpour '19, Connor Trafton '19, Mikayla Wasiri '20, and Deeksha Kohli '20. They will represent UCLA Law at the national championship in New Orleans in January.
Flodeen, Kyle DeCamp '19, Aidan Welsh '19 and Shalaka Phadnis '19 also reached the finals, despite signing up to compete with little more than a week's notice. Brittnee Bui '20, Michael Mosher '20, Corinne Peters '20, and Haley Silvano '20 were on the other UCLA Law team that reached the semifinals.
The teams were coached by Andrew Tran of the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office; Neil Thakor, an associate at Greenspoon Marder; and Justin Bernstein, director of the A. Barry Cappello Program in Trial Advocacy at UCLA Law.
"This is a school-wide victory," said Kohli. "I'm proud of my team for winning the tournament, but I'm even more proud of our entire program for such a great performance."
The case that was the basis of the competition involved a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a female prison guard against the Department of Corrections. Whether representing the plaintiff or the defense, UCLA Law won all of its trials against other law schools.
The results mark the end of an undefeated semester for the UCLA Law Trial Team. UCLA Law not only won first place in both competitions it entered—the National Civil Rights Competition and the ABA regional tournament—but it finished the fall with a perfect 12-0 record in trials against other schools.
The A. Barry Cappello Program in Trial Advocacy provides comprehensive training in the strategies and techniques required to be a successful trial lawyer through an array of courses, competitions and clinical opportunities.