First Place for Moot Court

After three days of competition, 64 teams and eight rounds, Georgia State University College of Law’s Bankruptcy Moot Court team took first place at the national Duberstein Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition in New York on March 3.

Team members Fareed Kaisani (J.D. /M.B.A. ’14), Clay Roberts (J.D. ’14) and Paul Shuman (J.D. ’14) competed against Mississippi College School of Law in the final around. After waiting five hours for the results—they learned they had won.

“It has been a colossal amount of work. Since Christmas, I have basically done nothing but research and write, then practice oral arguments,” Shuman says. “Winning was compensation for all that work.”

The team beat the University of Miami School of Law and 10 other law schools from the 11th Circuit in the 2014 Cristol, Kahn, Paskay Cup tournament on Feb. 22, which advanced it to national competition. In Miami, Georgia State Law competed against Emory University School of Law, University of Alabama School of Law, Florida State University School of Law and Stetson University College of Law.

Trey Tharpe (J.D. ’14) and associate professor of law Jessica Gabel coached the team, which spent months preparing the brief and practicing oral arguments in front of other moot court team members, the local bankruptcy bar and judges.

“Leading up to Miami, the guys were putting in hundreds of hours of research and preparation, but I knew it wouldn’t mean much if they couldn’t stand up to being grilled by sitting judges,” Tharpe says. “My main focus was to make sure they could were getting tough questions and were being forced to answer them.”

Tharpe says the team proved it could go head-to-head with the best in Miami. The challenge for New York was staying focused. “It was that focus and unwillingness to settle that carried them to the top, and I’m proud to have even a part of what they achieved.”

Kaisani says preparing for the competitions has advanced his legal skills.

“I have expanded my knowledge of complex bankruptcy issues and refined my research, writing and advocacy skills,” Kaisani says. “Being a member of the team has been a great experience because of our camaraderie.”

Shuman, Kaisani and Roberts joined the team as second-year students and participate in the Bankruptcy Assistance & Practice Program to help low-income Atlantans and have worked with local bankruptcy judges and the U.S. trustee.

“Having such a broad understanding of bankruptcy was an indispensable asset for the team,” Roberts says. “Winning in New York was tremendous. Every team we faced off against in the final rounds was extremely polished.”

The team credits the coaches, classmates, judges and attorneys that benched practice rounds for helping secure the win.

“Professor Gabel and Trey were so supportive. They set us up with judges and practitioners for our rounds, which really helped sharpen our oral advocacy skills,” Roberts says. “Also special thanks to Patricia Redmond, the President of the American Bankruptcy Institute and everyone on moot court who helped bench us and students around Georgia State Law who encouraged us.”

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