SWLAW Blog | Awards & Honors

Claire McCall (oralist), Andrew Lutfala (oralist), Erica Jansson (coach) and Jessica Garcia (writer)

December 1, 2022

Moot Court Team ALA Reaches Semifinals, Best Oral Advocate at National Competition

Please join us in congratulating returning Moot-ers Claire McCall, Andrew Lutfala, Jessica Garcia, and their coach Erica Jansson for their semi-final performance at the Appellate Lawyers Association 2022 National Moot Court Competition on November 4th and 5th in Chicago, IL. Team ALA, featuring writer Jessica Garcia and oralists Claire McCall and Andrew Lutfala, did a phenomenal job and finished in the top four! Additionally, Claire McCall was named Best Oral Advocate in the Overall Competition and Preliminary Rounds. 

Jessica Garcia, Andrew Luftala, and Claire McCall
(L to R) Jessica Garcia, Andrew Luftala, and Claire McCall

Moot Court competitions, like ALA, offer a unique opportunity to test and strengthen critical written and oral advocacy skills. The ALA Competition is an esteemed national moot court competition held annually in Chicago and hosted by the Appellate Lawyer's Association. This year's competition focused on the controversial "Ag-Gag" laws and current challenges against them being brought by animal rights organizations, allowing the team to argue two First Amendment issues. First, whether false speech to gain access to property is protected speech. Second, if such false speech creates a legally cognizable harm.

Team ALA Oralist Andrew Luftala recounts, "This past year in Moot Court has often felt like a dream. I feel so fortunate to have competed alongside my brilliant teammates Claire and Jessica. I will always treasure the memories we shared and the friendship we built from this incredible experience. All of this would not have been possible without the support of our phenomenal directors, coaches, judges, and colleagues who uplifted and encouraged us every step of the way."

Team ALA delivered a masterful brief alongside zealous and persuasive arguments in the preliminary and bracketed rounds. The brief, written by Jessica Garcia, represents one of the best briefs to have emerged from this program, displaying a deft understanding of constitutional law and First Amendment jurisprudence while interweaving persuasive language. 

Brief Writer Jessica Garcia shares, "One of my most memorable law school experiences has been my involvement in Moot Court. Working alongside Andrew and Claire during these past two competitions has been a blessing. We have watched each other grow as advocates and had great success at our competitions while building a close-knit friendship I will cherish forever."

Claire McCall's outstanding accomplishment as an oral advocate further cemented this team's powerful performance. Claire displayed a level of advocacy that marked her efforts as unmatched, earning her both the Best Overall Oral Advocate and Best Preliminary Rounds Oralist awards. 

Claire credited her success to the team's bond and the support of the entire Moot Court Honors program. She says, "It would not have been possible without the team bond we forged, our amazing coach Erica Jansson holding our hands throughout the process, the guidance of our directors Professors D'Italia and Carpenter, and the help of the whole Moot Court team and Southwestern faculty in preparation."

Claire McCall Headshot"Being on the Moot Court team and competing twice with Andrew and Jessica has been such an incredible experience. I've grown so much as a writer and oral advocate through the program that alone would have been award enough. But the sense of family and support from the whole program and particularly from my teammates Jessica and Andrew, is something that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Having the hard work we put into writing the brief and preparing our arguments to be rewarded by doing so well in both competitions is just the cherry on top." 

Team ALA Oralist Claire McCall, Best Oral Advocate 

We further want to congratulate this team and their previous coach, Professor Christopher Cameron, for becoming National Champions at the 46th Annual Robert F. Wagner Labor & Employment Moot Court Competition last Spring. This same trio made Southwestern proud when they won the competition, and Andrew Lutfala was named Best Final Round Oral Advocate.

Congratulations, Team ALA! What an incredible year for this incredible team! Special thanks to the team's fantastic coach, Erica Jansson, the Moot Court Honors Program Directors, Professors Catherine Carpenter and Alexandra D'Italia, faculty judges, moot court alums, and moot court members who helped prepare this team for the competition. 

We look forward to seeing their future success in appellate advocacy!