With victories in the two premier trial advocacy competitions in the country – the National Trial Competition and the Student Trial Advocacy Competition – UCLA School of Law’s A. Barry Cappello Trial Team has earned its most prestigious wins ever and is the national champion. No school has ever before won both titles in the same season.
The team took first place in the National Trial Competition on April 10, making UCLA Law the 46th champion of the nation’s oldest trial advocacy competition. Sponsored by the American College of Trial Lawyers and hosted by the Texas Young Lawyers Association, the National Trial Competition is often considered the preeminent tournament in the country. Approximately 300 teams from more than 150 law schools competed in this season’s virtual tournament. Following a successful run in the regional round earlier this semester, UCLA Law was one of only seven schools to qualify two teams for the final round of 30 teams. It then became the only school to have two teams reach the quarterfinals.
In the end, a team comprised of Delaney Gold-Diamond ’21, Avery Hitchcock ’21, and Chandler Matz ’21 claimed the championship. (Watch the final round here.) In five of their six trials during the competition, the winners prevailed over a previous national champion. UCLA Law’s other team of Natalie Garson ’22 and Stephen Johnson ’22 reached the quarterfinals. Both teams were coached by Justin Bernstein, director of UCLA Law’s A. Barry Cappello Program in Trial Advocacy; Amanda Mundell, an appellate attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice; and Rahul Hari, a litigator at Wilkinson Stekloff.
The competition centered on a case involving a woman who was injured in a bus accident and brought a product liability suit against the bus manufacturer.
One week later, a UCLA Law squad featuring Jack Eyers ’21, Rocky Maas ’22, Emily Owen ’21, and Enrico Trevisani ’22 won the Student Trial Advocacy Competition. Hosted by the American Association for Justice, the tournament includes about 200 teams from 100 schools each year and also follows a structure with regional tournaments that lead to a national final round. UCLA Law’s winning team had a perfect record in the finals.
The team was coached by Bernstein, Mundell, and UCLA Law trial advocacy alumna Brittnee Bui ’20, who now works as a litigation associate at Covington & Burling.
The Student Trial Advocacy Competition involved a traffic accident and a cross-suit between a driver and a motorcyclist.
“Participating in the trial advocacy program has been the highlight of my time at UCLA Law,” Owen says. “I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from brilliant lawyers and from my talented classmates.”
Adds Hitchcock, “Thanks to my experiences in trial advocacy at UCLA Law, I feel like I’m ready to join a trial team on Day 1 as a practicing litigator. Whether it be refining a case theory, arguing a motion, or examining witnesses, I am confident and excited for any opportunities to use my voice to advocate.”
UCLA Law also recently won the inaugural San Fernando Valley Bar Association Trial Competition, an event open to all California law schools. The winning team included Lillian Tsao ’22, Philip Raucci ’23, Kathryn Rosenfeld ’23, and Daniel Zhivanaj ’21. The students were coached by recent UCLA Law graduates Kyle DeCamp ’19, a litigator at Dechert, and Deeksha Kohli ’20, a litigator at Katten Muchin Rosenman. Their case was a civil suit against a police department. The plaintiff, arrested during a civil rights protest, alleged that she contracted COVID-19 because the police negligently exposed her to the virus after arresting her.
UCLA Law has been ranked No. 1 in the country and won 10 trial competitions since the start of this school year. No other law school has won more than three.
This article was updated from its original version to include the win in the Student Trial Advocacy Competition.