Penn Law 2Ls Brandon Harper, Philip May, Niketa Patel, and Arianna Scavetti have won the 2013 National Championship in the 9th annual American Bar Associationâ€™s Labor & Employment Trial Advocacy Competition. This yearâ€™s case involved a complex set of facts in which a sixty year-old plaintiff alleged that his employment was terminated as a result of age discrimination.
Three hundred and ninety-two law students from ninety-eight teams across the country competed at eight regional tournaments held in November of last year. The Penn Law team won the Washington D.C. regional competition and advanced to the national finals.
At the national finals, which were held on January 26-27 at the Earle Cabell Federal Building and Courthouse in Dallas, the Penn Law students advanced through two preliminary rounds and the semi-finals before defeating the New York regional champion, Quinnipiac Law School, in the final round. The Honorable Bernice B. Donald of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit presided over the final round of the competition.
The competition judges and Judge Donald praised Penn Lawâ€™s advocacy skills, professionalism, and courtroom presence. Judge Donald further honored the students when she observed that the advocates presented their case â€śmuch better than many attorneys who are currently being paid to try cases.â€ť
The Penn Law team was coached by attorney Robert Englert, a Philadelphia trial lawyer and an adjunct Lecturer in Law. â€śMy role is to foster those skills in my students so they have the ability to try their own cases both in competition and eventually on behalf of real clients,â€ť said Englert, â€śThe students deserve the credit for the manner in which they ultimately tried their case.â€ť
The competitors received general trial advocacy training under Englertâ€™s supervision at weekly trial advocacy workshops presented at the law school. â€śI am very clear with my students that I will only provide them with the skills, techniques, and resources they will need to try a case,â€ť said Englert, â€śThe students must develop their own theories, defenses and presentations so they are able to adapt to the uncertainties they will face in the courtroom.â€ť
After the team won the Washington D.C. regional competition, attorney Stephen Console, a renowned employment discrimination lawyer in Philadelphia, was consulted to assist the competitors in further refining their arguments in support of the Plaintiffâ€™s discrimination case at the national level.
The Penn Law Mock Trial Team is a student-run organization currently comprised of more than forty (40) active first, second and third-year law students. The team is self-governed by the student Mock Trial Executive Board, including 3Ls Julia Simon-Mishel (President), Jennifer Berman (Vice President); and 2Ls Vinay Limbachia (Treasurer), and Jaren Wilkerson (Alumni Chair).