News and Events
Pepperdine School of Law Mock Trial Teams Take Victories
If their wins are any indication, then they are doing something right. "They" being Pepperdine law professors Harry Caldwell, Tim Perrin, and Naomi Goodno, who are each responsible for leading, guiding, and coaching the Pepperdine Trial Teams.
Their coaching efforts combined with the hard work, determination, and talent of the Mock Trial team members have resulted in two first-place trophies from two Mock Trial competitions in two consecutive weeks this fall.
On November 11, Pepperdine won the prestigious National Civil Trial Competition at Loyola Law School, which followed close on the heels of Pepperdine's first place finish the week before at the Third Annual Law Student Trial Advocacy Competition sponsored by the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law.
In the Labor and Employment Law Competition, Pepperdine third-year students Patrick O'Hara, Le'Roy Roberson, and Brent Nibecker, and second-year student Lauren Park prevailed against 10 other invited law schools, defeating UCLA in a preliminary round and achieving decisive victories over Southwestern in the semi-finals and Chapman in the finals.
The case involved a claim of employment discrimination due to marital status, a topic of which team member O'Hara knew little before starting trial preparation. "The organizations pick topics of interest that sometimes serve to promote a particular area of law," explains O'Hara, "and you have to go from there."
The team clearly thrived. "This win was a true testament to the efforts of our trial team coaches Professors Caldwell, Perrin, and Goodno," remarks third-year student Nibecker. "They pour so much time and wisdom into us."
The team of Zeke Fortenberry, Amy Teeples, Janelle Davis, and Stephen Faulk took the gold the following weekend at Loyola Law School's 5th annual National Civil Trial Competition. Pepperdine defeated teams from George Washington University and Akron University in the preliminary rounds before overcoming local rival and host Loyola in the semi-finals and sweeping to victory against St. Johns (N.Y.) in the finals. Faulk, a third-year student, took home the award for "Best Advocate/Final Rounds." Pepperdine alumnus and lawyer Chris Frost served as one of the coaches of the team as well.
Of more than 50 law schools vying for a slot in the competition, only sixteen were invited to participate in the invitation-only tournament that began on Thursday, Nov. 9, at the U.S. District Courthouse in Los Angeles. "This is perhaps one of the two most elite tournaments in the nation this fall," says Fortenberry. "We were fortunate to be invited among such great advocacy programs, and we are honored to win such a prestigious tournament."
Teams argued a hypothetical case that drew its facts from a recent high profile civil lawsuit involving a well-known journalist who claims that he was threatened and harassed by the defendant because of the journalist's work on an article about the business dealings of several famous entertainment industry figures.
"Winning the National Civil Trial Competition, one of the most elite competitions in the country, was amazing and the feeling is absolutely indescribable. This will be one of the most memorable achievements of my law school career," comments Davis, a third-year student whose long-held dream, like that of teammate and second-year student Amy Teeples, is to be a successful trial attorney.
"The victory I shared in last weekend reminded me that I came to the right school to accomplish my goal of becoming a trial lawyer," Teeples notes. "Our coaches, are brilliant resources. They work exhausting hours to teach us the art and science of trial advocacy. They are coaches, mentors, and friends. Victory would not be possible without their tireless effort."
In addition to the rewards of strong teamwork and high achievement, mock trial participants readily acknowledge the benefit of this skill-building experience for their careers. Explains second-year student Lauren Park: "Mock Trial is an invaluable experience for those interested in becoming trial attorneys. It gives students the opportunity to put the knowledge that they have gained in law school to use while enhancing communication skills."
Given the value of the experience and success of Pepperdine's trial teams, it should come as no surprise that achieving membership to Pepperdine's trial team is a challenge. "It's quite competitive," notes O'Hara, who plans to continue his career with noted Texas litigator Mark Lanier. "Of the 40 to 50 people who will try out, only 1 to 3 people will make it."
Portions of this story were obtained from a Loyola Law School Press Release.