The St. Mary’s University School of Law National Trial Team took the national title in a trial advocacy competition that pits together 12 teams in mock trials. The 2021 competition was a virtual tournament that began in the fall and ended in a round-robin weekend, where St. Mary’s Law defeated a team from Chicago-Kent College of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology in the finals.

“These are hard victories to come by,” said A.J. Bellido de Luna, assistant dean for advocacy programs and Hard Service Professor of Law at St. Mary’s. “You need to have a team that is extremely prepared, has put in the hard work and has a strong unity.”

The competition simulates litigation skills in a courtroom setting. It comprises 11 rounds during which teams quickly adapt to eight civil and criminal fact patterns as well as new facts for new cases. To simulate a fast-paced law firm environment, St. Mary’s Law was given one fact pattern every two weeks.

The St. Mary’s Law team included third-year J.D. students Robin Becker, Kenneth Ferguson, William Hayes, Sergio Rodriguez, and John Sydow and second-year J.D. students Vanessa Herrera, Daniela Jimenez, Maria Jaimes, Raven Peña, and Vanessa Skillman.

“It was a real marathon,” Hayes said. “We’re full-time students on top of this, but we had great coaches. Assistant Dean Bellido de Luna selected really effective coaches who had a diversity of viewpoints and provided an environment where we could all flourish into really strong advocates.”