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From Classroom to Courtroom

Albany Law School President and Dean Alicia Ouellette, at right, congratulates UAlbany's Samantha McCarthy on a victorious showing in the Undergraduate Intercultural Moot Court Competition. (Photo by Meaghan Lambert)

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 14, 2017) — Last Saturday, 21 UAlbany students were at Albany Law School, presenting legal arguments on behalf of their client before a panel of local practicing attorneys and judges. The case focused on a family law issues related to parental rights.

The day was part of the 2nd annual Theodore T. Jones Undergraduate Intercultural Moot Court Competition. The competition is named after a New York Court of Appeals judge who served on New York’s highest court, and honors his dedication to pipeline and other diversity initiatives.

“There’s no better experience than a real-world experience, and this moot court competition provides UAlbany students interested in a career in law with as close to a real-world courtroom experience as there is,” said Michael N. Christakis, vice president for Student Affairs and a public service professor.

Christakis worked with Rosemary Queenan, Albany Law School’s associate dean for student affairs, and Professor Jim Acker of UAlbany’s School of Criminal Justice, to organize and seek funding for the competition. Acker spent the spring semester preparing the UAlbany students for the competition in his Moot Court class. Queenan and Professor Jerry Rock also visited the class to help prepare the students for competition day.

The winners of the competition, Samantha McCarthy ’18, a psychology major, and Ali Hansen ’19, a criminal justice and environmental health dual major, as well as finalists Nicholas Gonzalez ’20, a political science and communication dual major, and Alicia Cacioppo ’19, a psychology and art dual major, earned cash prizes.

Several other competitors were recognized for their outstanding oral advocacy skills during the first two preliminary rounds of the competition: Lisa Dobrowolsky ’19, a criminal justice and sociology dual major, for best oral advocate; McCarthy for second best oral advocate; and Natara Bailey ’17, a rhetoric and communication major, for third best oral advocate.

“It’s encouraging to watch students with little legal background take a complex case and argue for their client so clearly, and not be intimidated in this setting,” said Rock, faculty advisor for Albany Law’s moot court program. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of them as law students next year.”

The Theodore Jones Competition is part of a collaborative moot court project developed by Albany Law and UAlbany as part of its affiliation. Funded by the University at Albany and Albany Law School Venture Fund, it’s intended to foster joint activities, collaborative research and academic programs between the two institutions and to serve as a vehicle to create or extend areas of collaboration, sponsored funding, research and program development.

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.