The St. Mary’s University School of Law National Moot Court Team earned the title of national champions on Saturday, defeating the competition at the 20th Annual Leroy R. Hassell Sr. National Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition.

Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach, Virginia, sponsored the event, which was conducted remotely with 32 teams taking part from across the country. Moot court competitions simulate an appeals experience.

In the final round, the team of third-year J.D. students, Melissa Fullmer, Nicole Cooper and Lance Kimbo, competed against Wake Forest University School of Law. The teams advocated in front of a distinguished panel that included Fifth Circuit Judge Catharina Haynes as well as three sitting or former Chief Justices of the state supreme courts in North Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee.

Not only did the St. Mary’s team win the tournament, Fullmer was further recognized as having the best brief at the competition.

The team’s coach, attorney Ricky J. Poole (J.D. ’90), said the recipe for success is three-fold: having intelligent, talented and motivated student advocates; conducting exhaustive preparation both before and during the competition; and having a tempered confidence to communicate their message.

“COVID-19 has added a fourth ingredient — the necessity to present persuasive arguments remotely with appropriate technology. We have addressed this new technological challenge by trying to replicate a face-to-face, in-person round as much as possible while relying on our cameras, microphones, lights and laptops,” Poole said. “At the end of the day, COVID-19 or no COVID-19, the intrinsic skills for a winning appellate argument remain unchanged: focus the court’s attention not on the advocate but on the message and have a persuasive conversation with the court.”

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