Advocacy Students and Alumni Successes
The programs in the McGeorge Center for Advocacy & Dispute Resolution prepare students for success. In the Center's Fall 2015 newsletter, three alumni and students Selena Farnesi, 15, Maricar Pascual, '16, and Sheena Farro, '17, share thoughts about their experiences at McGeorge School of Law:
Selena Farnesi on How McGeorge Prepared her for Success
Selena Farnesi, '15, established herself as one of the best student advocates in the country, tying for third place in Baylor Law School's 2015 Top Gun national Mock Trial Competition, held June 4-7 in Waco, Texas. Farnesi also earned the competition's Most Professional Award. After winning all four preliminary rounds against Chicago-Kent, Faulkner University, Hofstra and UC Berkeley she advanced to the semifinals. After that well-fought round, New York University advanced to the finals, ultimately winning the entire competition.
Farnesi received the first $10,000 Ferris-White Best Student Advocate Prize, funded by McGeorge alumni and former trial team stars R. Parker White, '80, and Noël Ferris, '79. Ferris and White's own experiences while Trial Advocacy students at McGeorge inspired them to create an annual prize for the graduating student who demonstrates consistently outstanding trial advocacy skills.
Farnesi shared her memories of why she chose McGeorge, and some of her experiences while in law school: "I knew I wanted to be a trial attorney long before I started law school. I chose to attend McGeorge, in large part, due to their reputation as a school that produced courtroom ready advocates. But as the first day of law school grew closer and closer, I was filled with dread. I believed I was about to endure three years of treachery. I had heard horror story after horror story about the highly competitive, anxiety ridden, and stress inducing path I had chosen for myself. When that first day finally arrived, I walked onto McGeorge's campus and I braced myself.
Having come out the other side - now a graduate waiting for bar exam results (talk about treachery) - I am pleased to announce that my fears were unfounded. McGeorge, with all its Trial Advocacy programs, proved to be a place full of mentorship and opportunity. It didn't take long to find a community at McGeorge. Unlike most law schools, McGeorge gives its students a unique opportunity to participate in Mock Trial and Moot Court competitions as 1Ls. I participated in the Ben Franz 1L Mock Trial Competition my first year. After two rounds of competing, I was named one of three 1L student winners. I received a plaque and a scholarship, and never looked back.
From there I tried out for the Mock Trial Team and had the opportunity to compete all over the nation. I joined the Trial Advocacy Association where I was able to meet other students who were passionate about trial work and criminal justice. I signed up for the Advocacy Certificate program where I got to take classes that taught trial skills and public speaking. I embraced the school's two year Global Lawyering Skills program where I practiced written advocacy and oral advocacy in an intimate classroom environment.
I owe my successes to [McGeorge] programs; as well as to my fellow students and teammates, my amazing coaches, and the directors of these programs. It is because of them that I got to be part of a Mock trial team that placed second in the Buffalo-Niagara Mock Trial Competition, one of the largest private tournaments in the nation, with more than 30 schools competing each year. The following year, my Mock Trial partner and I became Regional Champions, and then Quarter Finalists at the National Trial Competition. And that's only the beginning!
As a 3L I participated in Top Gun, an invitational tournament limited to 16 outstanding student advocates. There I was named the First Most Professional Student Advocate and tied for Third Best Student Advocate - an honor I would not have had but for the support and sponsorship of my Mock Trial coaches, and the preparation of McGeorge's outstanding trial advocacy curriculum.
The benefits of being part of the trial advocacy community did not end there. Before I graduated I had been offered several post-bar clerkships and attorney positions. I was also honored with the Ferris-White Award; a $10,000 prize given to a graduating student with a passion for trial work, by Noel Ferris and Parker White, two of the most impressive and decorated McGeorge alumni I've ever had the pleasure to meet.
While I was a student at McGeorge I was always grateful to our alumni. They donate their time and talent as mentors and coaches and they donate to help students who share their passions. I believe the generosity of the trial advocacy community at McGeorge says more about the profound impact of these programs than I could ever hope to convey in this essay - but I'll try, by saying this:
Each and every one of the opportunities and experience I had at McGeorge chipped away at the dread I felt that first day of law school, making way for eagerness, comradery, and confidence. Because of them I found a place for myself not only in law school, but in the workforce. And come November when my name appears on the pass list, I'll be proud to call myself a McGeorge Trained Trial Attorney."
Maricar Pascual, '16, established herself as one of the top student appellate advocates in the country in the two competitions in which she participated last year. In the Thomas Tang National Moot Court Competition, Pascual received the award for top oral advocate in the Western regional rounds and then received the same accolade when her team advanced to the final rounds. She and her partner , Caroline Soto '15, were the first and second top oralists in the country in Tang's national round.
Last spring Pascual established her claim as the top oral advocate in the state by winning the title of best oral advocate at the Roger B. Traynor Moot Court Competition that was held in San Francisco. There, Pascual competed against top students from U.C. Berkeley, U.C. Hastings, U.C. Davis, Pepperdine and Santa Clara, in addition to ten other California law schools. No other law student was similarly honored three times as the top advocate in a moot court competition last year. Thus, Pascual can rightfully claim to be one of the top student appellate advocates in the country.
Pascual shared her experience in the Moot Court program: "It has been an honor to have been able to represent McGeorge at competitions along with my teammates. We competed against amazing student advocates and it has been a rewarding experience. The director, coaches, professors, and alumni who come back to help with the program, push you to be the very best advocate you can be both for both competition and as a future practicing attorney. After participating in McGeorge's advocacy programs, I know that I have been thoroughly trained as both an oral and written advocate and I am grateful."
Sheena Farro, '17, won the Top Oral Advocate Award at the 2015 McGeorge GLS Final Four competition. In the Global Lawyering Skills II course students work with a single case preparing and arguing motions in the trial court and through the appeals process following a judgment. This way, students see how the case evolves, applying attorneys' analytical skills to solve unfolding litigation problems.
Farro did not come to law school expecting to be an advocate: "I began my education at McGeorge terrified of public speaking and with little confidence. Professor Telfeyan's GLS I class cemented my foundational understanding of the paradigms of legal writing, arming me with vital tools that I use daily. Professor Macfarlane's GLS II class was intimidating at first. My first oral hearing to the "trial court" was not very successful. Professor Macfarlane worked with me through the year and by spring, I found myself positioned to win the campus wide Final Four Top Oral Advocate competition I am grateful for my experience in GLS II, as my success in that class has afforded me many opportunities that I may not have received otherwise, such as becoming a member of the McGeorge Moot Court Honors Board and becoming a student member of the Anthony M. Kennedy Inn of Court."