Engaged Learning

Allegra Upton ’22 Named Advocate of the Year

by Matthew Hose

Allegra Upton ’22 won this year’s Advocate of the Year Competition (AYC), beating out 26 competitors in the intramural event that gives upper-division students the chance to argue mock cases in front of a panel of practicing judges.


Allegra Upton
Allegra Upton’22

The Oct. 23 final round took place over Zoom with Jasmine Mitchell ‘22 as the second-place finisher. The two students argued opposing sides on an academic freedom and First-Amendment issue while facing tough questions from the judges.

“This experience is definitely one I will never forget,” Upton said.

In the AYC, which is hosted by the Moot Court Board, competitors must write appellate-level briefs and argue both sides of a legal issue. This year’s issue centered on a fictional law student who was sanctioned by her school for organizing a protest that grew violent and led to a disruption of an on-campus event.

Judges for the final round included the Hon. Benjamin T. Reyes ‘92, the Hon. Mary Wiss ‘81, the Hon. Ursula Dickson ‘98 and the Hon. Roger Chan.

Upton, arguing for the student, won high praise from the judges, especially for moving through her arguments in a compelling way. However, the judges declared it a close call and considered whether there had ever been co-winners before making their decision.

“We can’t wait to get you (both) out here doing good work,” the Hon. Dickson said. “We had extensive conversations about how wonderful both of you were.”

Dean Susan Freiwald also praised both finalists. “It’s such a thrill to see our students argue so professionally and persuasively. They had to do a little bit of dancing — a little bit of tennis — for the judges, and they did great.”

Upton, who is originally from Colorado and also serves as the Co-Vice President of the Student Immigrant Law Association and Vice-Chair of the Public Interest Law Foundation, said the AYC process put the potential for future trial litigation on her radar.

“All in all, the judges’ comments inspired me to think in new ways about oral advocacy and the potential of being a trial lawyer, as well as providing great insight into the inner workings of a courtroom and the give-and-take dynamics of presenting a case,” Upton said.

In addition, to Upton and Mitchell, Stephanie Roque-Hurtado ‘22 won the award for best appellate brief in the competition.

AYC Director Tamara Moresi ‘21 said as a Case Counsel last semester, she witnessed first-hand Roque-Hurtado’s development in Prof. Edith Ho’s legal writing class.

“To see the way your writing and your arguments have progressed throughout the past eight or so months has made me so happy,” Moresi said. “This is exactly what we want to see in our Moot Court members — the tenacity to sit down and argue a difficult problem, and to embrace that problem and develop your skills.”