Advocacy Program Continues to Deliver Results

Leading up to mid-March 2020, the Travis H.D. Lewin Advocacy Honor Society was on a significant roll through regional and national competitions, and the intracollegiate mainstays delivered our students their fair share of competitive opportunities to hone their courtroom skills.

By then, teams and individuals had attained numerous wins, high placements, and personal accolades, with several final competitions yet to go, when the COVID-19 pandemic effectively brought the season to a premature end, including scheduled trips to the National Trial Competition, the American Association of Justice Competition, the Williams Institute Moot Court, and the Uvaldo Herrera Moot Court Competition.

Two intracollegiate competitions were impacted by COVID-19: the Entertainment and Sports Law Negotiation Competition was canceled, while the Mackenzie Hughes LLP Edmund H. Lewis Appellate Advocacy Competition changed its format. With the written brief portion of Mackenzie Hughes already complete, Competition Director Julia Wingfield L’20 and Appellate Division Director Chanan Brown L’20 creatively turned the oral advocacy tournament into a writing competition.

Earlier in the academic year, students and advisors hosted three intercollegiate competitions—the ABA Regional Negotiation Competition, the National Trial Competition regionals, and the inaugural Syracuse National Trial Competition— furthering the College of Law’s reputation as a hospitable, well-organized host.

“I join our students in feeling that there’s unfinished business due to COVID-19, but I am very proud of their accomplishments this year nonetheless,” says Professor Todd Berger, Faculty Director of Advocacy Programs. “The students delivered great results in the competitions, and many pulled double duty, contributing countless hours behind the scenes as we successfully hosted three competitions. The pandemic required quick adjustments, and some competitions, such as the prestigious Top Gun, were held online. All in all, it was a great learning experience.”

“The students delivered great results in the competitions and many pulled double duty contributing countless hours behind the scenes.”

Todd Berger

U.S. News Ranks Advocacy Program at #15
The College of Law’s advocacy program was ranked #15 in the nation in the U.S. News & World Report 2021 ranking of law school specialty programs, tied with three other schools. This ranking is a significant jump from Syracuse’s #27 ranking the previous year. “U.S. News voters—influential faculty from around the nation—are noticing our continued focus on this program, as well as the excellent results earned by our students,” says Dean Boise.

College of Law Holds Inaugural Syracuse National Trial Competition
In early October 2019, 11 trial advocacy teams from across the country descended upon Syracuse, joining our advocacy team to compete in the inaugural Syracuse National Trial Competition (SNTC). After several rounds of grueling competition, Loyola Law School Los Angeles prevailed over Samford University Cumberland School of Law in the first-ever final. Student directors rising 3Ls John Mercurio and Troy Parker, as well as faculty co- directors Professor Todd Berger and Joanne Van Dyke L’87, collaborated on this event that further raised the College’s national profile as a top trial advocacy school.
Note: Any entries with numerals correspond to the photos on the right.

Celebratory Banquet Goes Virtual COVID-19 did not stand in the way of the annual Travis H.D. Lewin Advocacy Honor Society (AHS) banquet. Dozens of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and others joined together virtually to celebrate a successful year and bestow award honors and scholarships that are a part of the AHS tradition.

2020 Award and Scholarship Winners

  • Ralph E. Kharas Award: Joseph Mallek L’20
  • AHS Executive Director Award: Rising 3Ls Troy Parker and John Mercurio
  • Richard Risman Appellate Advocacy Award: Aubre Dean L’20
  • Emil M. Rossi L’72 Scholarship Award: Rising 3L Joseph Celotto
  • Models of Excellence in Advocacy Award, given in honor of Lisa Peebles L’92: Rising 3L Allison Kowalczyk
  • 2020 Lee S. Michaels Advocate: Rising 3L Joseph Tantillo
  • CourtCall Scholarship Award: Chanan Brown L’20 and Kevin Risch L’20
  • The Order of Barristers: Ariel Blanco L’20, Aubre Dean L’20, Davida M. Hawkes L’20, Adam Leydig L’20, Joseph Mallek L’20, Richard Miller L’20, Jill Tompkins L’20, Julia Wingfield L’20, and William Wolf L’20


Alternative Dispute Resolution Division
American Bar Association Arbitration Competition: William Wolfe L’20 and rising 3Ls Nabil Akl, Savraj Gill, and Frances Rivera Reyes advanced to the quarterfinals of the regional, finishing sixth.

American Bar Association Negotiation Competition: The College of Law hosted a regional round with 20 teams competing. Rising 3Ls Jacqueline Chilbert and Allison Kowalczyk advanced to the national round, with Professor Daniel Cantone L’ 81 coaching all teams.

Appellate Advocacy Division
The National Moot Court Competition: Aubre Dean L’20 and Joseph Tantillo L’20 won their regional competition, with Tantillo being named Best Oralist in the final round. Coached by Professor Emily Brown L’09 and David Katz L’17, the team finished in the top 16 at nationals.

American Bar Association National Appellate Advocacy Competition: Natalie Switzer Maier L’20 and rising 3Ls Carly Cazer and Clee Malfitano advanced to the octofinals.

National Tax Moot Court Competition: Jeanine Cryan L’20 and Carly Rolph L’20 advanced to the quarterfinals.

Trial Advocacy Division
National Black Law Students Association Constance Baker Motley Mock Trial Competition: Davida M. Hawkes L’20, William Wolfe L’20, and rising 3Ls Ken Knight and Sharon Otasowie advanced to the quarterfinals at the national round after winning their regional. Wolfe was named Best Advocate at the nationals. John Boyd L’16, Alphonse Williams L’17, and Stephanie Martin-Thom L’18 coached the team.

The Tournament of Champions: Ariel Blanco L’20, Adam Leydig L’20, and rising 3Ls Lisa Cole and Christy O’Neil advanced to the semifinals, and Leydig was named Best Advocate for the preliminary rounds. Joanne Van Dyke L’87, Joseph Cote L’87, Justin St. Louis L’17, Dennis Scanlon L’19, and Professor Emeritus Travis H.D. Lewin were coaches.

Buffalo-Niagara Mock Trial Competition: Davida Hawkes L’20, Richard Miller L’20, and rising 3Ls Joe Celotto, Chris Doak, and Troy Parker advanced to the semifinals, coached by Jeffrey Leibo L’03, Jennifer Pratt L’17, Peter Hakes, and Professor Emeritus Lewin.

Syracuse National Trial Competition: Kevin Risch L’20 and rising 3Ls Alex Eaton, Tyler Jefferies, and Evan Pfeifer advanced to the quarterfinal round.

National Trial Competition: Two teams advanced to nationals from the regionals held in Syracuse—Adam Leydig L’20 and rising 3L Joe Celotto on one team, and Ariel Blanco L’20 and rising 3Ls Lisa Cole and Christy O’Neil on the other. Leydig won Best Open for the preliminary rounds, while Celotto won Best Advocate for the final round. The College also won the Tiffany Cup for second year in a row, and is now most winningest advocacy program across New York State. The coaches were Joanne Van Dyke L’87, Jenny Pratt L’18, and Peter Hakes.

National Online Trial Advocacy Competition: At an online competition created to fill the void left by COVID-19 cancellations, rising 3Ls Lisa Cole and Christy O’Neil represented Syracuse, with O’Neil advancing to the semifinals.

Top Gun National Mock Trial Competition: Adam Leydig L’20 placed fifth, with
rising 3L Tyler Jefferies his co-chair. This is the fourth time in five years that this prestigious tourney has invited Syracuse.


42nd Annual Lionel O. Grossman Trial Competition: Davida M. Hawkes L’20 and Richard Miller L’20 prevailed over Alecia Frye L’20 and Troy Gayle L’20 in the Grossman Trial Competition in October 2019, Frye receiving the Frank H. Armani L’56 Advocacy Award for the best individual advocate.

The Hon. Glenn T. Suddaby L’85, Chief US District Court Judge, Northern District of New York, presided over the final round, joined by evaluators the Hon. Brenda K. Sannes, US District Judge for the Northern District of New York; the Hon. Thérèse Wiley Dancks L’91, US Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of New York; Professor Emeritus Lewin; and Ed Menkin L’77.

8th Annual Bond, Schoeneck & King Alternative Dispute Resolution Competition: Andrew Weekes L’20 and rising 3L Kenneth D. Knight prevailed over Sara Pielsticker L’20 and Ju-Juanna Perkins L’20 in the BSK ADR Competition. Perkins was named the Best Advocate for the final round.

Final round judges were Judge Dancks; Brian Butler L’96, Member, Bond, Schoeneck & King PLLC; and James L. Sonneborn, Member and Head of the Litigation Department, Bousquet Holstein PLLC.

10th Annual Hancock Estabrook LLP 1L Oral Advocacy Competition: Rising 2L Brady Turner prevailed over fellow rising 2L Christopher Martz in the Hancock Estabrook Oral Advocacy Competition. Final round judges were Judge Sannes; the Hon. Mae A. D’Agostino L’80, US District Judge for the Northern District of New York; Judge Dancks; Dean Boise, and James P. Young, Esq., Partner, Hancock Estabrook LLP.

Mackenzie Hughes LLP Edmund H. Lewis Appellate Advocacy Competition: In-person arguments were canceled due to COVID-19, and the Mackenzie Hughes Appellate Advocacy Competition became a written brief competition, won by rising 3Ls Joseph Tantillo and Thomas Finnigan.