St. Mary’s University School of Law students swept the championship in the American Bar Association National Appellate Advocacy Competition, which was held in Chicago from April 7 to April 9.
“This championship speaks volumes about the quality of our law students as advocates,” said David A. Schlueter, Hardy Professor of Law and Director of Advocacy Programs at St. Mary’s.
Considered by many to be the most prestigious moot court competition in the country, the event measured the oral advocacy skills of law student teams from across the nation by simulating an appeal experience before the United States Supreme Court. Students write a brief and then argue their case before a mock court of eight judges in the Everett M. Dirksen U.S. Courthouse.
The St. Mary’s Law External Advocacy Program (EAP) moot court team of third-year law student Stephanie De Sola, third-year law student Leah Wise and second-year law student William “Billy” Calve, were among nearly 200 teams to begin competing on the regional level hoping for a shot at the national finals, said the team’s coach, attorney Ricky J. Poole (J.D. ’90). The team defeated Loyola Law School, Los Angeles in the final round.
“This is a tremendous achievement for these gifted advocates and a huge feather in St. Mary’s advocacy cap,” Poole said. “It simply confirms what I have long known, that through their innate advocacy skills and diligent preparation, St. Mary’s advocates can not only compete against the best programs in the country, but can be the best.”
The judges also recognized De Sola as the third-best brief writer in the nation.
“Winning the ABA NAAC Championship has been my ultimate goal during my past two years on the St. Mary’s EAP Moot Court Team,” De Sola said. “It is a dream come true, thanks to endless encouragement and support of my coach, Ricky Poole, and my talented and amazing teammates.”
The ABA moot court win follows closely on the heels of the Federal Bar Association Thurgood A. Marshall Memorial Moot Court Tournament, during which the team of De Sola and Calve won the national title in Washington, D.C., on April 1. That achievement marked the third straight year for a St. Mary’s team to win the national FBA moot court tournament.
“It was an honor to argue in Chicago and carry on St. Mary’s rich tradition of successful advocacy,” Calve said. “Coach Ricky Poole pushes us to become the best advocates, law students and thinkers we can be; and we are grateful for all his encouragement and mentoring throughout this unforgettable experience.”
“Moot Court has been the most transformative experience of my law school career and winning ABA Nationals will forever remain as a pivotal moment in my life,” Wise said. “Thank you to Coach Poole and my teammates for never giving up on me.”
St. Mary's University, founded in 1852, is the first institution of higher learning in San Antonio and the oldest Catholic university in the Southwest. It offers 75 programs, including doctoral and law programs, and has a diverse student population of about 3,800 of all faiths and backgrounds. Its vision, as a Catholic and Marianist liberal arts institution, is to become one of the finest private universities in the region, a gateway for graduates to professional lives as ethical leaders in Texas, the nation and the world.