After a successful fall semester, the Georgia State University College of Law Student Trial Lawyers Association has kept the momentum going this spring—traveling to various competitions across the country and earning top honors.
One STLA team placed sixth overall in the national American Association of Justice Mock Trial Competition on April 4-7, after winning the regional competition on March 7-10.
"Team Testosterone," made up of William Alverson, Tom Flugum, Philip Henderson (J.D. '14) and Terrell Thomas (J.D. '14), lost to Syracuse University in the quarterfinals of the national competition after edging out Cumberland, the defending national champion, to win the southeast region. Paige Boorman and Kristen Spires (J.D. '12), who served as the 2011-2012 STLA vice president and was a 2012 AAJ Regional semifinalist, coached the team.
"The first time the members of this team competed as attorneys in a mock trial competition was at the AAJ regionals," Spires says. "They competed against advocates who have competed in numerous competitions from some of the top trial advocacy programs across the country."
"Our goal was to advance to the semifinals. Once we advanced, we really bonded together as a team," Flugum says of the regional competition. "We were confident because of all the great help we received from our coaches and STLA membership in helping us prepare. When we actually won regionals, it was very rewarding because it was a team effort. I felt like it was a victory for the entire organization."
Henderson was in disbelief when his team won regionals. "It didn't set in until an hour later when I was driving home," he says.
The second STLA team of Alicia Mack (J.D. '13), Francis Dixson (J.D. '14) Michelli Rivera (J.D. '14) and James Dutton (J.D.'14) placed fifth out of 16 teams in the regional AAJ competition on March 7-10 in Atlanta. The team missed the quarterfinals by one ballot. Rebecca Davis (J.D. '04) coached them through the competition.
"Our team worked very hard. We were up against one of the toughest regions across the nation," Rivera says. "For the last couple of years the team that has won nationals has always been from the southeast region."
At the Florida State University Mock Trial Competition on March 7-9, Andrew Brandt (J.D. '13), Alana Driscoll, Pamela Peynado (J.D. '14) and Robert Watts placed fifth out of nearly 20 teams, losing the quarterfinal round by one point.
"Our coaches did a great job of critiquing us and bettering our technique while encouraging our skills and keeping us motivated," Driscoll says. "They did a fantastic job of coaching the four of us as a team to be coherent and polished, but also focused on everyone's individual needs and skills to make us the best trial attorneys possible."
During the weekly meetings with the coaches, each team member improved leading up to the competition, Brandt says. "I have grown more as a future attorney in 70 days than I have since I started law school. Paige and Tom deserve every bit of credit for our success. They pushed us and guided us—helping to make us lawyers and not just law students."
Peynado credits her experience with STLA for preparing her to be a better attorney. "STLA has built up my confidence and has developed and honed skills that no classroom could ever teach me," she says.