Capping its extraordinary 2022-2023 competition season, the FIU Law Trial Team returns from Puerto Rico as semifinalist in the Estrella Trial Advocacy Competition.
The top 3 finish also earned FIU Law a critical national-ranking point.
Our all-3L team was led by Trial Team president, and team captain, Victoria Thacker, team vice-president Evan Thomas, Alexander A. Pollock, and Shea Kleinman. Each student served in both advocate and witness roles.
The team’s preparation time for this competition was tight, with all four students leaping into this case file immediately upon finishing their competitions before. Instead of a month or two, Estrella was essentially a three-week prep.
Pictured, left to right: FIU Law Trial Team Estrella Semifinalists, 3Ls Alexander A. Pollock, Victoria Thacker, Evan Thomas, and Shea Kleinman
Sponsored by The George Washington University Law School, day one’s preliminary competition rounds were held at Clemente Ruiz Nazario United States Courthouse in Hato Rey. Sunday’s final rounds were held at the Jose V. Toledo United States Courthouse in San Juan.
This year’s jury trial involved a negligence action against a superstore for injuries suffered from a customer’s fall from an eight-foot shelf.
FIU won both preliminary rounds, defeating LSU on plaintiff side and the University of Illinois as defense, and advanced undefeated to the semis as the tournament cut to the top 4 teams: FIU, along with number 4 nationally-ranked American, number 14 nationally-ranked Stetson, and Northwestern.
By a mere two-points, FIU fell to Stetson in a hard fought semifinal.
Northwestern, having defeated American in the other semifinal, prevailed over Stetson as the ultimate competition winner.
Completing the Estrella field were number 2 nationally-ranked Fordham, Baylor and Campbell, both also nationally-ranked 14, Cardozo, Golden Gate, Colorado, UVa, and tournament host GW.
The Estrella team sets up for its semifinal round. Pictured, left to right: Evan Thomas, Alexander A. Pollock, Victoria Thacker, and Shea Kleinman
“This has been quite the year for us,” said Professor H. Scott Fingerhut, Assistant Director of the Trial Advocacy Program and Estrella team coach. “We engaged in five competitions, performed spectacularly well in all five, learned a lot, and fought hard to maintain our national ranking. But most important is the culture this team has established for our students who follow: to treat one another, and the craft, with respect, to prepare so no one outworks you, and create great stories, gratefully told. I could not be prouder, or more grateful myself, for how magnificently our students continue to carry the FIU Law banner and display our very special brand of passionate principled advocacy.
“We are FIU and we are rising.”
And what a competition Trial Team season 2022-2023 has been:
Georgetown White Collar Second Place
Chester Bedell Memorial Second Place
Chester Bedell Memorial Quarterfinalist
Trials and Tribulations Quarterfinalist and Division Champion
Best Overall Preliminary Advocate Award
Outstanding Preliminary Advocate Award
The Trial Team’s First Ever Top 20 National Ranking
Our Estrella team was coached by Professor Fingerhut, along with Trial Advocacy adjunct professor, and former Trial Team captain, Ari S. Goldberg (’12), and, of course, Professor H.T. Smith, Founding Director of the FIU Law Trial Advocacy Program.
To learn more about Trial Ad at FIU and all that our program has to offer, call 305-348-8095 or visit law.fiu.edu/trialad.