A team of Texas Tech law school students took home the 27th national championship for the School of Law, winning the largest moot court competition in the nation.
Third-year law students Reagan Marble, Ashirvad Parikh and Suzanne Taylor won the American Bar Association National Appellate Advocacy Competition after facing off against the South Texas College of Law in the final rounds, said Robert Sherwin, director of the law school’s advocacy program and the team’s coach.
“It was an extremely competitive final round,” he said. “South Texas College of Law has one of the best moot court programs in the country. We feel like they’re our biggest rival. They are always very competitive. They are always very prepared and very polished.”
The team began practicing in November to compete in the March regional competition in Washington, Sherwin said, where the members competed against 40 other teams.
After winning regionals, he said they advanced to the ABA competition, where they went up against 225 teams from 129 law schools, making it the largest moot court competition in the country.
This is the school’s first victory in the ABA competition, Sherwin said, although they have claimed two victories in the nation’s other top competition, the National Moot Court Competition, which is the oldest one of its kind in the country.
“In the last three years, we’ve won the National Moot Court Competition twice,” he said, “and the ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition once, just this last week.”
Marble, from Jourdanton, said training three to four times a week for up to two hours at a time was rigorous, but worth it.
“Balancing that with law school is very difficult, but very rewarding,” he said. “It’s nice to be in a court room eight to 10 hours a week and actually practice the skills that they’re teaching us in class.”
During the competition, Marble and his partner, Taylor, argued a civil rights case in front of a panel of seven judges, six of those being federal district judges and one being a circuit court of appeals judge. That in itself was incredible, Marble said, but competing against South Texas was even better.
“That was easily the pinnacle or the coolest moment of my law school career,” he said. “South Texas College of Law is legendary in the realm of advocacy among law schools. They have 15 of these championships, compared to our four, so they’re undoubtedly a dynasty.”
Marble won the best oral speaker in regionals, and second-best in nationals. His partner, Taylor, also earned top marks, winning the fourth-best oral speaker in the preliminary rounds and third-best oral speaker in nationals.
Parikh, from Kingwood, wrote the team’s brief, which ranked fourth in the nation.
He said he enjoyed practicing with his team, as difficult and interesting as the experience was.
“Going up against South Texas, they were a very good team,” Parikh said. “They were very tough to compete against and I think Reagan and Suzanne just did an amazing job against them.”
What set the team apart from the rest was their ability to be conversational in its arguments, Marble said, which allowed them to provide a strong case both in knowledge and presentation.
“Something that’s so important in moot court is when advocates are able to be conversational,” he said, “and when advocates can have a conversation with the bench rather than lecture, they’re going to succeed. My coach has taught my partner Suzanne Taylor and I to be as conversational as possible, and when you’re likeable and you can carry on a conversation, no matter what you say, juries tend to take that with some heavy weight and tend to find in your favor. So, I think that was ultimately our difference, was our conversational style.”
Sherwin said this was his first victory in the ABA competition, although he had won the two previous victories in the NMCC.
“It means a lot to me because I know how important it was to the students and how important it was to the law school for us to have an advocacy program that the rest of the country looks at and envies,” he said. “It was very, very satisfying to know that for the last three years we’ve had the best, if not one of the three or five best moot court programs in the country.”
For Parikh, it was a surreal experience, he said.
“My reaction was shock and joy, really,” Parikh said. “I remember I was sitting next to our coach Rob and Suzanne, and for a second there was that two-second pause where you were just like, ‘Woah, did we just win?’”
Marble said he felt a flurry of emotions — excited, stunned, honored and relieved. For him, this experience may be the last he ever has with moot court competitions.
“My partner and I have been partners for two years now,” he said, “for our second and third years in law school, and Robert Sherwin had been our coach for two years. It has been a long and bumpy ride. We haven’t always won, we haven’t always succeeded like we wanted to, but this is our very last competition. And we knew that morning that was the very last time we would set foot in a courtroom all together. So when we won, it was indeed the icing on the cake.”