Law school trial teams earn high recognition



By Cassidy Myers

Sports teams are not the only ones accumulating awards on campus — the UK College of Law has been in the spotlight with the recent national success of two of its student trial teams.

The UK Black Law Students Association placed third in the Midwest regional competition, earning them a trip to the national Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Tournament at Boston College on March 11, and the UK College of Law National Trial Team earned a top-eight nationwide finish at the American College of Trial Lawyers National Trial Competition in Dallas on March 27.

In the Midwest regional competition, Tommy Juanso, Chantell Foley, Sharletta Mahone and Erice Smith represented UK as one of 18 teams that were invited to the tournament, and in the trial competition in Dallas, law students Josh Hicks and Paco Villalobos represented UK.

The Thurgood Marshall Competition has quickly become a recognized law-related competition since its inception in 2002. During the competition, two students act as attorneys while the other two serve as witnesses, giving participants trial experience.

In order to be ready for such a prestigious tournament, preparations started well in advance of the competition.

“The trial problem is released in October and we hit the ground running the week after we get the trial problem,” Mahone said. “We practiced from October up until we left. We practiced three to four times a week for three or four hours at a time.”

Mahone said showings like this make it hard to deny the up-and-coming UK College of Law.

“We continue to show people that UK law is a force to be reckoned with, whether it’s on a regional level or a national level, UK has a reputation as a team to beat,” she said.

This year marks the fourth consecutive year the National Trial Team has earned a trip to the national competition after beating schools from Michigan and Ohio in previous regional contests.

After their most recent showing against approximately 155 law schools, more than 300 teams and about 1,000 law students, Hicks and Villalobos are now ranked as one of the top 20 trial advocates in the country.

Such great success is not new for the College of Law. Last year, UK boasted the second best trial team in the nation and the best advocate in the country in student Chris Schaefer. Despite the success of the program, Connelly said they still aren’t getting the recognition they are merited, but know that impressive repeat performances and dedicated students are necessary to earn that status.