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National Trial Competitors

April 03, 2024

National Trial Competition - Texas Young Lawyers Association
National Trial Competition - Texas Young Lawyers Association

Six Penn Carey Law students recently made an impressive showing at the Texas Young Lawyers Association National Trial Competition regionals.

As the Super Bowl of mock trial competitions approaches at the Texas Young Lawyers Association National Trial Competition, two teams from the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School battled at the regional level in February.

Nineteen teams from law schools across Pennsylvania and New Jersey competed at the Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice in Philadelphia. The team of Luke Bradt L’24, Nikita Ganesh L’24, and Michael Krone C’19, L’24, WG’24 advanced five rounds and finished as regional finalists; the team of Leigh Bianchi L’24, Bri Goodchild L’24, and Liam Leahy L’25 advanced four rounds and finished as regional semi-finalists.

At the first practice meeting, Leahy said they were told that in recent years, Penn Carey Law teams had not advanced far in the competition and to just expect a good learning experience.

“When I heard that, feeling a little Philadelphian pride, I remembered Jason Kelce’s legendary speech after the Super Bowl where he talked about underdogs: ‘You know what an underdog is? It’s a hungry dog…Hungry dogs run faster.’ I sent the clip to the team, and for the entire process, I kept reminding myself that by working hard, we could advance and succeed in this competition,” Leahy said.

The Kelce underdog mentality paid off, and Leahy said he was proud to see the Law School’s two teams advance to the semifinals and final of the regional rounds.

“We had run faster—through consistent practice and hard work, we were able to do amazing work, and I’m so happy I was able to be on the team,” he said. “Being the only 2L, I’m excited to come back next year and hopefully keep up that same mentality of working hard to succeed at this competition! And I’m optimistic—after all, it took Rocky two movies to beat Apollo Creed!”

Competing on behalf of the Law School was an honor, Krone said, and it reinforced his passion for trial advocacy.

“Every member of the team was dedicated to finding a novel case law argument to exclude evidence, devising an innovative theme to convince the ‘jury,’ or scoping an interesting cross to use opposing witnesses to our advantage,” he said. “It was a pleasure being at counsel table with Luke Bradt, and I am thankful for the brilliance and courtroom presence of Nikita Ganesh.”

Bradt said that their successes were the result of concerted efforts to support each others’ strategy development. “The best part was, of course, the thrill of competing during the rounds and decompressing with teammates afterwards,” he said. “Even though the case is fictional (and absurd), you can’t help but get caught up in the drama of it all.”

Bianchi is in Penn Carey Law’s criminal defense clinic this semester and said the competition provided valuable courtroom practice. “We represent clients at preliminary hearings and misdemeanor trials (at the clinic), so it was great to get experience cross-examining a witness,” she said.

Thomas Perricone, who is chief of the criminal division as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, is also an adjunct professor at Penn Carey Law and coached the teams.

“These six students were just so impressive,” Perricone said. “They were diligent, committed, thoughtful, creative, and relentless. I’m proud to have been their coach, and I know their success will continue.”

Learn more about moot competition opportunities at Penn Carey Law.