Akron Law Advances to Finals of American Association for Justice (AAJ) Trial Team Competition


The University of Akron School of Law Trial Team members Dan Bray, Daniel Leister, Anthony Wise and Michelle McBee won the American Association for Justice (AAJ) regional tournament in Wilmington, Del. this weekend. The team will compete at the AAJ national championship held in Las Vegas, Nev. on March 24.

The final round of the AAJ competition featured two Akron Law teams. The other Akron Law team advancing to the final round consisted of trial team members Kelsey DiFrancesco, Greg Thompson, Laci Mason, and Joseph Martinez.

Both teams achieved perfect records before advancing to the final round. The teams defeated Yale Law and University of Cincinnati School of Law in the semifinal rounds.

This is the third time in the last five years the finals consisted of both Akron Law teams. Akron Law alumni Larry Sutter and Brian Dodez coach the teams.

“Our team’s success at the competition continues our trial program’s winning tradition,” said Joann Sahl, assistant director of the Legal Clinic.

The American Association for Justice sponsors the National Student Trial Advocacy Competition, an annual nationwide mock trial competition. This is an exceptional opportunity for law students to develop and practice their trial advocacy skills before distinguished members of the bar and bench. (Official Site)

AAJ's mock trial cases are always civil cases and tend to deal with products liability, personal injury, or medical malpractice/negligence issues. Teams will be judged on their skills in case preparation, opening statements, use of facts, the examination of lay and expert witnesses, and closing arguments. There will be no written exercise. The competition is open to law schools nationwide. Teams are assigned to one of 14 regional competitions. Only the top team from each region will advance to the National Finals.

In the last 25 years Akron Law trial teams have been champions or Co-champions in the 41 district tournaments sponsored by the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) or Texas Young Lawyers Association National Trial Competition (ABA/NTC). At the national level, they have placed second four times in the ATLA or NTC Tournaments, were national quarterfinalists eight times, national semifinalists twice, and national champions in the 2004 ATLA Tournament. Additionally, Akron teams have been invited to compete in the prestigious National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) Tournament of Champions 18 times since 1989. Akron Law won the National Championship in 2003 and also won Best Advocate honors. Akron Law placed second at the Tournament in 2004 and won the Award for Best Advocate, Preliminary Rounds. Akron Law also placed second in that tournament in 2005 and 2007 once again won the Best Advocate Award. Learn more about Akron Law at www.uakron.edu/law .