Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

Past Awards

TAHP Takes 2nd Place at San Diego Defense Lawyers Mock Trial Competition

TAHP San Diego

Vira Samouhi and Monica Arellano defeated their opponent in the first preliminary round, followed by Greg Selarz and Stephanie Williams defeating their opponent in the second preliminary round. Both wins advanced the team to the Semi-Finals, where they again, defeated their opponent, ultimately sending them to the Finals where they took 2nd place! They defeated 22 teams from across the country.

TAHP San Diego

The award-winning team was led by Program Directors, Professor Joseph Esposito and Professor Bill Seki as well as coaches Torsten Bassell, Kunal Jain, Mackenzie Brown, and Shiraz Khalid.

TAHP Team Reaches Finals at CACJ Competition

CACJ Second Place TeamAt the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ) National Criminal Trial Advocacy Competition held in San Francisco, Southwestern's team of B.J. Abron, Mari Kiridjian, Michael Morse and Ashley Smolic were finalists. They argued the fictitious case of the People v. Ramirez, which involved the drive-by shooting of a young man in an apparent act of gang retaliation.

Southwestern's team (pictured with one of their coaches) finished in Second Place behind Florida State. The competition featured teams from Golden Gate, Fordham, Chapman and UC Hastings. Southwestern's second team of Dorian Herrera, Matthew Kleintop, Sherin Parikh and Anastasia Sagorsky also performed well.

According to Jahmy Graham, Communications Chair of TAHP, "The presiding judge, who was both an experienced trial lawyer and federal judge, said that all of the advocates were in the top 10% of trial lawyers he's seen in his career. Although they did not advance to the semi-finals, Team 2 also fought hard and left it all in the courtroom. All of the advocates made us all very proud."

TAHP Teams Earn Second and Fifth Place at AAJ Regional Competition

At the regional rounds of the American Association of Justice (AAJ) Student Trial Competition held in Santa Monica, Southwestern's Trial Advocacy Honors Program (TAHP) team of Jessica Balady, Dora Clements, Matthew Stumpf and Daniel Selarz finished in Second Place, and the team of Mackenzie Brown, Kevin Gres, Elliott Jung and J.B. Twomey finished in Fifth Place.

The teams were coached by Armen Amirkhanian '09 and Jennifer Turner '07, and Tony Koutris '96 and Andrew Pongracz '08, respectively. "For the advocates, an opportunity to compete in trial advocacy competitions is invaluable," commented Twomey, who is also TAHP Chair. "The process of preparation with knowledgeable and talented attorney is the most rewarding aspect of competing." Read more.

TAHP Wins Regional Round of National Trial Competition, Advances to Nationals

Southwestern's Trial Advocacy Honors Program team of Bahareh Aghajani, Katherine Bruce and Kunal Jain tied for First Place at the Southwest Regional Round of the National Trial Competition (NTC), which was held in San Diego. As a top finisher, the team will travel to Austin, Texas to compete in the National Championships.

Southwestern tied with Loyola Law School for top honors at the event where 29 teams participated, including Arizona State University, Brigham Young University, California Western, Chapman University, Pepperdine University, Thomas Jefferson, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, University of San Diego, and University of Utah, among others. Read more.

TAHP Captures First and Third Places at Regional Competition

At the American Bar Association Section of Labor and Employment Eighth Annual Law Student Trial Advocacy Regional Competition, the Trial Advocacy Honors Program (TAHP) team of Jessica Balady, Andrea Friedman, Elliot Jung and Mathew Rudes took First Place, and the team of Michael Bauer, Dora Clements, Michelle Henderson and Kunal Jain finished in Third Place.

"Winning the competition was great," Jung said. "But, what I am most proud of is the fact that two Southwestern teams placed first and third. In fact, when they announced the four teams that advanced to the semifinals, we learned that Southwestern had ranked first and second out of the preliminary rounds. TAHP is on fire right now." Read more.

TAHP Team Wins National Criminal Trial Advocacy Competition

Two Trial Advocacy Honors Program (TAHP) teams from Southwestern performed exceptionally well at the California Association of Criminal Justice's (CACJ) National Criminal Trial Advocacy Competition in early November. The team of Anet Badali, Enrique Rodriguez, Ashley Fetyko Smolic and J.B. Twomey won the competition while the team of Katherine Bruce, Jahmy Graham, Nestor Lopez and Michael Morse received one of four Honorable Mentions for their outstanding advocacy skills.

Southwestern's winning team defeated Pepperdine University in the semifinals and McGeorge Law School in the final round. In addition, Badali was also named Best Advocate, receiving the George W. Porter Award, which was established to commemorate his life work, as one of CACJ's founding members, to celebrate his vision of an organized criminal defense voice. The team was coached by alumni Douglas Baek '08, Torsten Bassell '06 and Kenneth Holdren '09. Read more.

TAHP Team Wins Regional Competition, Heads to Nationals
(from left) Kris Le Fan, Lynette M. Jones, Ashlee P. Clark and Giancarlo Recinos
TAHP Team Wins Regional Competition, Heads to Nationals

Southwestern's Trial Advocacy Honors Program (TAHP) team of Ashlee P. Clark (SCALE II), Lynette M. Jones (fourth-year evening), Kris Le Fan (SCALE II) and Giancarlo Recinos (third-year day) won First Place at the Regional ABA Labor and Employment Law Competition in Los Angeles.

As a result of their outstanding performance, the team has been invited to compete at the national competition, which will be held January 29 and 30, 2011, in Los Angeles. Fourteen teams from eight law schools competed at the Los Angeles Regional Competition in November. Southwestern's First Place team defeated competitors from Pepperdine University School of Law, Chapman University School of Law and California Western School of Law before triumphing over a second team from Chapman in the finals.

The case the team argued, Pat Bramble v. Baby Boomer Life Insurance Company, centered on a salesperson suing his former employer for violation of Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The plaintiff claimed that he was fired because he had cancer. The defendant contended that the plaintiff was not fired; he was laid off as part of the company's national restructuring plan. The same problem will be argued at the national competition, where Southwestern will be one of eight teams participating. Each team competing at nationals won their respective regional competitions.

"What best helped us prepare for the competition was not being married to our first impression of the case," said Jones, who also serves as Chair of TAHP. "We were flexible and collaborative, and that served us well... Winning the regional was incredible. We were against good, competitive teams. Under pressure, though, our advocates were composed, confident and professional. These qualities were keys to helping our team stand out."

Professor Joseph Esposito, who serves as co-director of TAHP, said that the team put forth an amazing effort throughout the competition. "I had the privilege of watching our team in the semi-final and final rounds," he said. "Their performances as advocates and witnesses were truly flawless. The judges were extremely impressed with our team's poise, confidence and high level of preparation. This was an exciting and well deserved victory for TAHP and Southwestern."

TAHP Member Named Best Advocate at American Association for Justice Competition

At the recent American Association for Justice (AAJ) Regional Student Trial Advocacy Competition in Santa Monica, team member Lindsay Gardner won Best Advocate. She represented the defendant, a hotel in a wrongful death liability case. Her coach, alumnus Edwin Rathbun '02, praised the performance of the entire team, which also consisted of Fritzgerald Javellana, Cory Scott, and Lou Myers.

Of Gardner's presentation, he said, "She was simply outstanding. After five weeks of practice, she really shined at the competition. Lindsay's courtroom presence and her ability to connect with people no doubt won the judges over. In particular, her closing argument was great. It was well-organized and the delivery was awesome. All of this combined with her communication skills and ability to think quickly on her feet will make her an outstanding trial attorney."

Gardner, a third-year day student who also sits on the TAHP Board, credits the support she received with preparing her for the competition. "My teammates and coaches really helped push me to give 150% at every practice, and if it was not for them, I would not have performed so well," she said. "Winning Best Advocate was one of my goals for this competition. I feel very honored to have won."

Trial Advocacy Team Wins NTC Regional Competition

The team of Maryam Parsioon, Ken Holdren and Andrew Caple-Shaw won First Place at the Southwest Regional Round of the National Trial Competition (NTC), which was held in Fullerton. It is the first time Southwestern's TAHP team has won this competition.

For the regional competition, the team tackled a fictitious case very similar to the one involving Michael Vick and dog fighting, which had captured the media's attention last year. Southwestern alumni Anthony Koutris '95 and Brandy Chase '06 coached the winning team. "This case was sanitized of the grisly pictures," Koutris said. "Both sides had equally problematic witnesses and the team had to argue both sides of the issue." The team has one month to prepare for a new case before the finals.

The team went undefeated in the preliminary rounds, beating the University of Arizona and Pepperdine University. They went on to beat the University of Arizona's other team in the quarter-finals, Loyola Law School in the semi-finals and Thomas Jefferson School of Law in the championship round.

"It was a truly incredible experience," team member Ken Holdren said. "In our round against Pepperdine, we found ourselves with an unprepared witness, and had to make on-the-fly adjustments. We wound up short of time and had to adjust virtually everything. But by our third and fourth rounds against Arizona's other team and Loyola, we really found our groove and were performing at the top of our game. Our coaches and professors had really instilled in us the importance of owning the courtroom - and this is exactly what we were able to do more and more as we progressed."

Teammate Maryam Parsioon added, "The competition experience was so much fun. It was absolutely exhausting in between rounds, but every time we were in the courtroom and the clock started, everything just seemed to fall into place. Even when we made mistakes, there was a sense of camaraderie and support from my teammates that helped us pull through."

TAHP Co-Director Joseph Esposito said that the team's achievement is an important because only two tournaments, NTC and AAJ, award points toward the Tournament of Champions. "Tournament of Champions points are truly coveted by law schools as they permit schools to enter many exclusive, invitation-only mock trial competitions," Professor Esposito said. "All of the advocates and coaches deserve a huge round of applause for their hard work and dedication."

Two teams from Southwestern, each with three advocates, competed in the event. Team one included TAHP Chair Aaron Case, Carmen Miranda and Matthew Welde. They performed very well, beating both University of Utah teams in the preliminary rounds.

National Civil Rights Trial Competition Teams Earns First Place Victory

The team of Armen Amirkhanian, Andrew Caple-Shaw, Vanessa Chavez and Lindsay Gardner received the First Place Award at the National Invitational Civil Rights Trial Competition held at St. John's University School of Law in New York, October 23-25. The team went undefeated in the preliminary rounds, winning over teams from the University of Miami School of Law and Chicago-Kent College of Law. They prevailed over Washburn University School of Law in the semi-finals, and went on to the championship round where they defeated Temple Law School.

The case argued involved a protestor claiming police violated his First, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Lindsay Gardner said, "It was an incredible feeling to know that all our hard work paid off with a First Place win!"

Anthony Koutris '95, who served as head coach said it was "a victory that will stay with them throughout what will undoubtedly be stellar careers." He was joined by assistant coach Jennifer Turner '07.