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(L to R) California Western student Sara J. Staninger, Coach Elizabeth M. Carino ’12, and Emily M. Cunningham submitted the highest-scoring brief in the ABA’s Law Student Division National Appellate Advocacy Competition.
Student Advocacy Team Submits Top-Scoring Legal Brief at ABA Competition
California Western team credits Legal Skills courses for helping them develop writing skills to excel against top law schools

SAN DIEGO, March 6, 2013 - California Western School of Law’s tradition of developing young attorneys with valuable practical skills was on display in San Francisco last weekend as the team of second-year students Emily M. Cunningham and Sara J. Staninger submitted the highest-scoring legal brief in the regional round of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Law Student Division National Appellate Advocacy Competition. 

Coached by Deputy Attorney General Elizabeth M. Carino ’12, Cunningham and Staninger’s brief received a final average score of 93.667 out of 100, which was higher than any of the 245 other law school teams participating in the competition.

Carino said the team started working on the problem “involving issues of qualified immunity and the Anti-Break Doctrine as applied to grand jury proceedings” last December and practiced for hours together on evenings and weekends to prepare for the competition.

“Emily and Sara proved that California Western students can not only excel, but surpass the writing skills of students from Ivy League schools,” said Carino.

The coach and competitors also credited their Legal Skills professors for helping them to develop the necessary writing skills to compete against the best law schools in the nation, and effectively serve their clients in future practice.

“California Western’s Legal Skills professors do an outstanding job teaching students practical research and writing skills,” said Carino. “From my experience, employers will teach someone the substantive law, but they won’t teach them how to write. So, if students are not adequately prepared in law school, they are at a great disadvantage in the workplace.” 

National Appellate Advocacy Competition
The ABA Law Student Division National Appellate Advocacy Competition (NAAC) emphasizes the development of oral advocacy skills through a realistic appellate advocacy experience. Competitors participate in a hypothetical appeal to the United States Supreme Court. The competition involves writing a brief as either respondent or petitioner and then arguing the case in front of the mock court.

Click here to learn more about California Western's Moot Court Honors Board (MCHB).