Engaged Learning

Courtroom Champions: USF Law Team Triumphs at Prestigious Competition

by Sarah Cronin

Professor of Legal Writing and Co-Director of the Moot Court Program Monalisa Vu ‘01 says competing as part of an advocacy competition team is “all the good things about law school in one program. On the one hand, you have the academics, and on the other hand, you also have the genuine relationships.”

This February, a USF Law advocacy competition team took first place at the Western Regional Division of the Saul Lefkowitz Moot Court Competition. The International Trademark Association hosts the competition and this year’s case problem involved a trademark infringement dispute between two fictional candy companies.

The winning USF team, comprising Brad Bergman ’25, Samara Salaheddine ‘25, Ben Libbey ‘24, and Lauren Silva ‘24, was invited to compete at the National Finals in Washington D.C. in March.

For the team, their win came as a surprise.

“As they said it, I heard it, but I didn't process it. I don't think I processed it until waking up the next day,” Bergman says.

The win was especially meaningful for third-year students Silva and Libbey who had competed as teammates the previous year but hadn’t won.

“I looked at Ben [Libbey], and I was like, oh my god, we did it,” Silva recalls. “It was a really great moment that I will remember forever.”

Moot Court Board coach Gray Goodman ‘24 credits the team's efforts, an accumulation of over 200 hours of practice, research, and preparation, including meetings four times a week, for their success.

“All of our hard work for months and months had finally come to this one specific moment,” team member Salaheddine says, “For that to all pay off was just extremely rewarding.”

This is also the first winning team to emerge since Associate Dean Amy Flynn ‘04 implemented a new curriculum, adding Advanced Moot Court and Team Advocacy Workshops.

The team claims that this curriculum, in addition to the support they received from intellectual property and trademark law Professor Thomas A. Onda and alumni coaches, Meghan Killian ‘15 and Calla Yee ‘15 (former Saul Lefkowitz Western Regional Moot Court Competition winners themselves), made all the difference.

“I think throughout the years, USF has been very good at prepping teams for oral arguments. It's definitely one of the strengths of the program,” Libbey said. “That focus on not just the competitive part, but also the skill building and educational part of the coursework is really valuable.”

Vu says the students’ hard work has in turn elevated the quality of the program at USF. “They were so supportive and were there for each other the entire way,” she says, “Watching that part of it gives me hope for the profession…it’s not about winning or losing, or being against one another, but getting to the right outcome and I saw them do that. And it was beautiful.”

Advanced Moot Court is an academic extracurricular program that simulates the proceedings of appellate courts, giving students the opportunity to advance their advocacy skills through competitive brief writing and oral arguments.