The annual ranking of the top law school trial advocacy teams in the country has been released, and the A. Barry Cappello Trial Team at UCLA School of Law is No. 1 for the second year in a row. The success comes after a record-breaking season for the law school’s trial team, including landmark wins in the most esteemed competitions in the country.
Fordham University School of Law’s Brendan Moore Trial Advocacy Center compiles the prestigious Trial Competition Performance Rankings, which it describes as “an objective snapshot of achievement in interscholastic law school trial competitions.” Last year, its first at No. 1, UCLA Law outranked the more than 160 law schools that participate in trial advocacy tournaments.
This year, the law school once again took the top spot, earning 40 points in the rankings, while second-place Georgetown University Law Center earned 15 points. The trial team’s tally also nearly doubled the previous record for a single season: 21 points. UCLA Law has the most cumulative points of any school in the five years that the rankings have been tabulated and published. Its 78 points since 2016 well outpace No. 2 Stetson University College of Law’s 58 points.
During the 2020-21 school year, in which all student preparation and competitions were conducted virtually, UCLA Law became the first law school to win the three most prestigious trial competitions in the same season — the Tournament of Champions (sponsored by the National Board of Trial Advocacy), the National Trial Competition (sponsored by the Texas Young Lawyers Association and the American College of Trial Lawyers), and the Student Trial Advocacy Competition (hosted by the American Association of Justice).
“The best part of this achievement is that it doesn’t represent the excellence of one student or even one team of students. It represents the excellence of literally dozens of UCLA Law students,” says Justin Bernstein, director of the law school’s A. Barry Cappello Program in Trial Advocacy and leader of the trial team.
Adam Shlahet, director of the Fordham Law trial advocacy program, created the Trial Competition Performance Rankings. “The year UCLA Law had was simply remarkable,” he says. “No other school has even come close to that level of success at national tournaments in a single year.” Regarding the cumulative ranking since 2016, Shlahet adds, “When it comes to trial competitions, the rest of the country will be chasing UCLA Law from here on out.”
Since 2019, the Cappello Team has included 41 students, making up 28 separate teams, all of whom contributed to the No. 1 ranking: Pauline Alarcon ’22, Blake Berich ’21, Amelia Bruckner ’21, Brittnee Bui ’20, Jamie Butts ’22, Kenny Capesius ’22, Regina Campbell ’23, Shawn Choi ’21, Christopher Damitio ’21, Nick Dyess ’21, Bryn Evans ’22, Jack Eyers ’21, Jay Friedel ’21, Catherine Gardner ’20, Natalie Garson ’22, Delaney Gold-Diamond ’21, Andrew Gordon ’22, Avery Hitchcock ’21, Stephen Johnson ’22, Kian Khajooei ’20, Deeksha Kohli ’20, Rocky Maas ’22, Chandler Matz ’21, Mike Mosher ’20, Matt O’Donnell ’20, Emily Owen ’21, Corinne Peters ’20, Philip Raucci ’23, Kathryn Rosenfeld ’23, Class of 2020 visiting student Nicole Rubin, Tiffany Sarchet ’21, Haley Silvano ’20, Mykel Skinner ’22, Sarah Stebbins ’23, Kassia Stephenson ’20, Connor Trafton ’19, Enrico Trevisani ’22, Lillian Tsao ’22, Seth Wacks ’22, Mikayla Wasiri ’20, and Corey Wilson ’20.
Coaches have included several alumni and friends of UCLA Law: Christian Acevedo, Justin Bernstein, Alex Bluebond, Brittnee Bui ’20, Kyle DeCamp ’19, Zach Fields, J’me Forrest, Rahul Hari, Deeksha Kohli ’20, Bailey Loverin ’19, Judge Jackson Lucky, Amanda Mundell, J.D. Rees ’14, Elizabeth Smiley, Neil Thakor, Connor Trafton ’19, Andrew Tran, Mikayla Wasiri ’20, Melissa Watt, and Aidan Welsh ’19.