In a unanimous decision, FIU College of Law’s Moot Court team of Daniela Abratt and Lauren Canina won the 11th Annual Board of Advocates Intramural Appellate Advocacy Competition. Canina was also named Best Orator.
Judge Morris S. Arnold, United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit; Judge Julio Fuentes, United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit; and Judge Vance E. Salter, Florida Third District Court of Appeal, presided over the oral argument.
The final round two-person teams included second-year law students Iva Todorova and Leidy Perez (for the Petitioner) and Daniela Abratt and Lauren Canina (for the Respondent).
Moot court is a common practice among law schools and offers students the opportunity to participate in a simulated appellate court proceeding. The competition includes the evaluation of both written briefs and oral arguments. Professor David Walter, who served as the teams’ coach, knew that the two teams were going to make for a tough competition.
“We had four outstanding advocates for this year’s final round oral argument and based on their arguments during the semi-final rounds, I thought the finals would be too close to call. I thought the judges’ decision could go either way,” he said. “The students poured their hearts, souls, and minds into their oral argument prep, and their final round arguments certainly showed their efforts. We are all very proud of their arguments.”
“We just wanted to do our best for ourselves and for each other,” Abratt shared. “This whole experience – especially arguing in front of such an esteemed panel of judges (and winning) – has been truly humbling and rewarding, and doing it with one of my closest friends has made it even sweeter.”
The pair credits their professors for helping ready them for the intensity of the Final Round.
“Many of the law professors graciously volunteered their time to practice with us, especially Professor Howard Wasserman,” Canina said. “As his former evidence and civil procedure students, I hope we made him proud.”
For Canina, it was a double victory.
“Competing in the finals and winning best orator will always be a special memory when I look back on my law school career,” she said. “With each round of the competition I learned more and more about what it means to be an effective oral advocate. It’s about putting your heart into the case and letting that shine through in your argument. I’m happy that the judges were able to see that from all four of us.”
The Board of Advocates is a student moot court organization that develops advocacy skills in a variety of legal contexts. Teams compete in regional, national, and international appellate, negotiation, and trial competitions throughout the year while earning academic credits.
For this Intramural Competition, two-person teams pair up and prepare an appellate brief and deliver an appellate oral argument in a competition format. Since October, teams have been participating in single elimination competitions as way to make the Board of Advocates team.