Trial advocacy team advances to national finals after regional win


For the third year in a row, and for the fourth time in the last five years, our School of Law is the regional champion at the American Association for Justice Student Trial Advocacy Competition. 

The AAJ Competition is one of the largest and most prestigious national mock trial competitions. Law schools from all over the country are divided and assigned to one of 14 regions, each with 16 teams, for a total of 224 teams vying for a regional championship and an invitation to the national competition in Raleigh, N.C. Trials are heard by a panel of three judges comprised of practicing trial counsel, as well as trial judges from the area. Judges score student advocates based on their skills in opening statement, direct examination, cross examination, closing argument and knowledge of the rules of evidence.


Winning mock trial team members, from left, Rachel Coles, Jeananne Ayoub, Cassandra Rosa and Logan Bryant will represent UA in April at the national American Association for Justice Student Trial Advocacy Competition.

This year’s competition involved a medical negligence case arising from a vehicle accident involving the plaintiff and the patient of a medical doctor. The plaintiff alleged the doctor failed to properly diagnose his patient’s seizure disorder and failed to follow his legal duty to report the diagnosis to the local Department of Motor Vehicles so that the patient’s license could be suspended until the condition improved.

The University of Akron was represented by two teams, each comprised of four students. Rachel Coles, Jeananne Ayoub, Cassandra Rosa and Logan Bryant got out to an early lead and never looked back, finishing the preliminary rounds 3-0, winning eight of nine possible judges and securing the #1 seed heading into the semifinals. There, they overcame competition from the University of Michigan School of Law before facing the #2 seed Michigan State University in the Regional Championship Round. Once again, the team rose to the challenge and brought home the regional title in a well-fought split decision.

Ashley Lanz award winner

Ashley Lanz, left, was presented with the Lawrence A. Sutter III Best Advocate Award by Matthew O’Connell.

Akron was also represented in the tournament by Ashley Lanz, Elaine Souder, Justin Tjaden and Zach Lindesmith, who put together a very strong performance in a tight competition. After a loss in the opening round, the team swept all six judges in the final two preliminary rounds against teams from the University of Michigan and Duquesne University. The team was just shy of making the cut from the field of 16 to the final four. 

The strong team performances were further capped by the judge’s selection of Ashley Lanz as the second annual recipient of the Lawrence A. Sutter III Best Advocate Award for the preliminary rounds. The award is named in honor of the late Larry Sutter ’89, who was a founding and managing shareholder at Sutter O’Connell until his passing in March 2017. He was an adjunct professor and long-time director of Akron Law’s Trial Team program, helping to raise the University to national prominence in trial advocacy. Lanz is the first University of Akron student to win the award. 

Ayoub, Rosa, Bryant and Coles will now move on to the AAJ national competition in Raleigh from April 12-15, They will compete with the 13 other regional champions in an effort to bring home Akron Law’s 9th national title, and first since 2014.

The teams were coached by School of Law alumni Kevin Kita ’11, Tony Wise ’13 and Greg Thompson ’12.


Media contact: Lisa Craig, 330-972-7429 or