South Texas College of Law Houston Named “Best of This Decade” for Moot Court by preLaw Magazine
South Texas College of Law Houston recently earned the title of “Best Moot Court of this Decade” in a ranking published in the fall 2016 issue of preLaw Magazine.
In its feature, “Best Schools for Moot Court,” the publication highlighted schools that have excelled in moot court – an extracurricular activity in which law students argue mock cases in simulated court proceedings – since the Andrews Kurth Moot Court National Championship began tracking them in 2009.
Also known as advocacy training, moot court activities enable students to apply classroom knowledge in a courtroom setting, hone their research and writing skills, and learn how to argue both sides of a case before a judge. Advocacy competitions help students learn to think like practicing attorneys and gain valuable, real-world skills that give graduates an advantage in competitive job markets.
This month, South Texas College of Law Houston students Brad Eric Franklin, Hayley Hervieux, and Chase Newsom won the school’s 123rd national advocacy championship. No other law school in the United States has won half as many. South Texas is one of only three national law schools consistently ranked in the top 10 for trial advocacy by U.S. News & World Report.
“Advocacy is addictive,” said T. Gerald Treece, vice president, associate dean, and director of the Advocacy Program at South Texas College of Law Houston for nearly 40 years. “I never tire of seeing talented students realize their potential in moot court activities. It’s like turning on voltage to a neon light. When a student has the magic, suddenly everything comes alive in a courtroom. The people who are meant for the courtroom are not meant for anything else. They’re never going to be happy unless they’re in the battle.”
That said, advocacy training also benefits future transactional lawyers, as – by fully researching and preparing moot court cases – all students develop their confidence in the law, fine-tune their organizational skills, and learn to become better advocates for their clients.
Data for preLaw Magazine’s annual ranking is entered into an elaborate scoring method that assesses the quality of the competitions a school participated in, the size of the competitions, and the school’s performance in those competitions. The top 16 national teams are invited to participate in the Andrews Kurth Moot Court National Championship, dubbed, “the best of the best” in moot court competitions.
Using the compiled results, preLaw added the law schools’ accumulated points from 2011 to 2016 to identify South Texas College of Law Houston as the top advocacy school in the U.S. over the past decade.
Former South Texas advocate (’98) Tony Taft of The Taft Law Firm said, “To me the genius of the Advocacy Program is how Coach Treece has trained his advocates so well, and then, he has encouraged those advocates to coach subsequent teams. The beauty of the program is it’s going to be self-sustaining even after Coach retires, because he’s always encouraged those who have gone through the program to come back and help.”
Many former advocates of the law school heavily invest their time in coaching students on a one-on-one basis and serving as practice judges prior to competitions. “Advocacy is a team sport at South Texas College of Law Houston,” said Treece. “Many universities take great pride in their sports teams. We take that kind of pride in going out and doing so well in advocacy tournaments across the country.”
In addition to Treece, other administrators of South Texas’ Advocacy Program include Associate Director Rob Galloway, Manager Shaun Devine, and Coordinator Hayley Stenhouse.
“Serving as a member of the school’s 123rd national advocacy championship team is an unforgettable honor,” said Franklin. “I became a South Texas advocate to really hone my skills so that, as an attorney, I can represent my client’s best interests by holding my own against any opposing counsel and in front of any judge. Ultimately, advocacy is about learning how to argue law, think on your feet, and ask for help when you need it. This program has taught me how to answer the hard, unpredictable questions, drawing from my knowledge of case law, the many hours of practice, and the invaluable feedback from my teammates and coaches.”