UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – This past weekend, one of the Penn State Law in University Park mock trial teams was a winner of the Midwest Region of the American Association for Justice (AAJ) Student Trial Advocacy Competition and became one of just 20 teams nationwide to advance to the national finals, which will be held on April 8-10. The Midwest Region included teams from, among other law schools, Michigan State, Indiana University, Ohio State, Notre Dame, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, University of Pittsburgh, and Villanova.
The AAJ mock trial competition is one of the two largest mock trial competitions in the country and features over 200 teams each year. The case being tried this year is a civil action involving the alleged wrongful death of a person due to a deck collapsing during a party.
“Mock trial is such a collaborative effort and we could not have done this without each and every person who has spent time working through our case with us,” said Rachael Rousseau-Shander. “It’s incredibly rewarding to see the culmination of our hard work pay off and we look forward to competing again next month.”
“Winning Regionals and being the first Penn State Law team to advance to Nationals in the AAJ competition is very rewarding,” said Haley Loquercio. “Our coaches this semester, Bailey and Anna, spent so much time working on the case with us, and I appreciate all of their help and guidance. I am looking forward to our national competition in April.”
The Penn State Law team is comprised of four 3Ls: Loquercio, Rousseau-Shander, Michael Konen, and Haley Walker. The team is coached by Penn State Law alumni and mock trial competition veterans themselves, Anna Notchick (‘21) and Bailey Cole (‘21). Professor Chris French, director of Penn State Law’s Trial Advocacy Program, stated, “This competition features the very best mock trial teams and trial advocacy programs in the country. Our team’s preparation and performance were exemplary. The team was able to win round after round regardless of whether it was representing the plaintiff or the defendant, which is the hallmark of great advocacy.”
“I am thrilled to be a part of the first Penn State Law Mock Trial Team to advance to Nationals for the American Association for Justice Student Trial Advocacy Program,” said Walker. “To finish my Mock Trial career by competing with some of the best advocates, Haley, Rachael, and Michael, and making it to the national competition has been a dream come true and has made all of our hard work worth it. I'm so grateful for our coaches, Bailey and Anna, and everyone that has helped us to continually grow and excel in our advocacy skills.”
“I think what made this win special for all of us is that it didn’t feel like we did anything specific to win. We never changed ourselves or morphed to match an opponent; instead, we were consistently ourselves and ran our case, and we won,” said Konen. “Ultimately, we’re all very excited to represent Penn State Law in the national finals of this competition; we believe we have the people to win it and will do everything we can to do so.”