“When a student has the magic, suddenly everything comes alive in a courtroom. It’s like turning on voltage to a neon light.” – T. Gerald Treece
South Texas College of Lawâ€™s Advocacy Program has fielded national championship teams consistently for more than 30 years, a history unrivaled by even the most legendary athletic institutions. The trophies amassed by our interscholastic advocacy teams symbolize more than decades of hard work and victories by the law students who compete anonymously in moot court and mock trials around the nation. They represent the South Texas tradition of unparalleled commitment to advocacy education and our leadership in developing outstanding lawyers who graduate with the skills they need to represent clients in the courtroom from day one of their professional careers. The Advocacy Program also builds champions in the universal sense of the word, encouraging students to realize their full potential as exemplary individuals who uphold, ardently support and defend worthwhile causes, often aiding others in a marginalized society. While competition wins are a measure of our success, the ultimate victory, the thing that ultimately benefits communities and the world, is valiant behavior itself.
Tradition Associate Dean T. Gerald Treece, the W. James Kronzer Distinguished Professor of Advocacy, envisioned the South Texas College of Law advocacy program from its inception in 1978 as a collaborative effort shared by the South Texas community. Robert L. Galloway ’91, the Associate Director of Advocacy, has helped direct the program since 2007. Epitomizing the program’s spirit, Galloway is a former South Texas advocacy team champion who works passionately alongside Dean Treece and others to ensure the success of future generations of advocacy students. “People come back and show others how to do it,” Galloway says. “That’s Dean Treece’s idea: You have to give back.”
Mentors It takes hundreds of volunteers each year to help develop, support and prepare strong advocacy teams. About 65 percent of the college’s alumni build careers in Houston, creating an elite network from the bench and bar who mentor students. They help our advocacy teams win the old fashioned way — from the podium — rigorously testing arguments and research in practice sessions or serving as competition judges. On any given weekend during the school year, 20 -30 alumni work or travel to competitions with advocacy students. Many also provide financial support to the program. The college’s research and writing faculty also contribute as coaches and talent scouts.
“I can always find a brain to pick, an ear to listen and a push in the right direction.” – Avi Moshenberg ’12
Coursework At South Texas, a legal education begins with one of the nation’s top legal research and writing programs. This two-semester requirement is also the bedrock of the college’s advocacy program. After they’ve completed their first 30 hours of law school, students are ready for in-depth, intensive training in the arts of trial and appellate advocacy. The curriculum includes elective courses in appellate advocacy and advanced civil litigation. Students can also participate in the Summer Trial Academy, which involves preparing a case and seeing it through a trial process. Intramural competitions add another level of practice before students try out for moot court and mock trial advocacy teams.
Facilities A 19-foot high sapele-wood wall backs the nine-seat, marble-topped judges’ bench of the T. Gerald Treece Courtroom. A witness stand, a court clerk’s table, a court reporter’s table, attorneys’ tables, a spectator area and two jury boxes enhance the facility’s educational capabilities. Visitors enter through the O’Quinn, Laminack & Pirtle Hall of Champions, an elegant lobby space with limestone and black marble floors, artistic displays honoring donors and a commemorative wall honoring national championship winners. The adjacent Baldwin Family Jury Room serves as a robing room for appellate judges or as a jury room when the facility is used for actual trials. South Texas advocacy teams devise their strategies at the Advocacy Center conference room’s 17-foot long sapelewood table. Team members are also reminded here of the tradition they keep, surrounded by glass cases that display significant advocacy awards.
“You get a special feeling when you walk up to the podium. It’s the memories, the history — you’re motivated by those who came before you.” – Grace Popham ’14
Practice Regardless of their passion, presentation and research abilities, lawyers donâ€™t learn to litigate from books or lectures. They have to get into the courtroom and test their knowledge and powers of persuasion against opponents, in front of jurors and the bench. This is why South Texas competes in national moot court and mock trial competitions each year, and why its stellar facilities matter. Between competitions, students in our advocacy program study and practice with the help of some of the most brilliant minds on the bench and bar in Houston.
Community Typically, about 50 law students compete in national tournaments each semester. They are truly the college’s top guns, ambassadors not just for the advocacy program but also for the entire South Texas community. Many of the college’s 1,200 students are involved with the advocacy program in other ways and share in the victories. Students on the Board of Advocates, which includes representatives from each year’s class, serve as witnesses, bailiffs, sparring teams, and ushers during intramural and interscholastic competitions. Students also help to facilitate competitions and observe moot court and mock trial rounds.
“I was welcomed into a collaborative and supportive learning environment. I soon realized a sense of community is ingrained in everything South Texas does.” – Twila Grooms ’99
For three decades, South Texas College of Law has consistently been listed at or near the top of every advocacy program ranking. Among other significant milestones:
• In 2008, South Texas achieved its 100 th national advocacy championship. No other law school has won half as many. •
In 2010, South Texas College of Law won the American Bar Association’s National Appellate Advocacy Competition for the 15th time. No other law school has taken the title more than twice.
In 2012, South Texas College of Law received its fifth Scribes Brief-Writing Award for the best brief submitted to a national moot court competition, an honor no other law school has claimed more than once.
“If you do well in advocacy, you can do well in anything,” says Courtney Carlson ’08, a former national champion and current moot court coach. In an era when billable hours are critical and resources are sometimes limited, law firms need attorneys who are practice-ready, regardless of their area of focus. The strong tradition of advocacy championships at South Texas is most important because it signifies our commitment to a thorough legal education. For more than 30 years, South Texas has produced exceptional lawyers who are capable of walking straight from the bar exam into the courtroom and advocating for clients like champions in the true sense of the word.
To find out more about South Texas College of Lawâ€™s Advocacy Program:
www.stcl.edu/advocacy design: stcl communications copy: molly glentzer photography: terry vine printing: blanchette press