The Many Ways You Give Back: Joanne Van Dyke L’87

In addition to your financial gifts, loyal and engaged Orange alumni help their alma mater in many other ways—from hiring graduates and hosting externs, to guest lecturing and teaching, to coaching and judging advocacy teams.
Every way you contribute makes a difference for our students, not least in the personal professional bonds that are formed among generations of Orange lawyers.
Here we offer a few vignettes about how alums have been offering their time and talent in the past year, and why they do it. 


This Is a New Era

Joanne Van Dyke L’87

By all reckoning, the second annual Syracuse National Trial Competition—held online Oct. 16 to 18, 2020—went extremely smoothly.

That’s down to the organizational skills of Director of Advocacy Programs Todd Berger, long-time coach Joanne Van Dyke L’87, and Advocacy Program students; technology that enabled online argument and scoring; and scores of volunteer alumni who help to fill an awe-inspiring 150 judge and evaluator spots.

To fill that many positions, Van Dyke turned to Advocacy Program veterans. “We had alum evaluators from California, Florida, Texas, and Georgia—from all over the country,” explains Van Dyke, acknowledging the silver lining that virtual competition affords. “The fact we were able to bring back former students as judges and evaluators was huge. It was great to see them and their enthusiasm.”

Van Dyke adds that she received many emails and thank you cards after the tournament. “Former students said judging SNTC made them feel as though they were back in law school!”

Kaylin Grey L’06

One of those enthusiastic alums was Kaylin Grey L’06. “The tournament was really well run, and I had a blast,” Grey says. “I judged three rounds, and I couldn’t get enough!”

Now a partner in the Miami office of MG+M, Grey coached Syracuse trial teams when she lived in Rochester after graduation, and she was hoping to return to Syracuse to help judge SNTC in-person. “I missed coaching trial teams, so I’m grateful I could get involved this way,” she says. “I was able to reconnect with people I hadn’t seen in a long time.”

According to Van Dyke, engaging the Advocacy Program virtually has inspired some SNTC judges to get even more involved with the Advocacy Program, coaching teams and judging other competitions remotely.

“I will continue to help out,” says Grey. In fact, since SNTC she has coached Syracuse Tournament of Champions and National Civil Trial Competition teams.

Collaboration software isn’t just revolutionizing advocacy tourneys, adds Grey. “I’ve told the young advocates that online is the new thing. Recently, I’ve been doing virtual depositions and evidentiary hearings—this is a new era.”