April 21, 2022
TAHP Students Bring Advocacy A-Game to Regional Competition
Please join the Trial Advocacy Honors Program in congratulating advocates Willow Karfiol, Lauren Krug, Victoria Levin, and Francisco Yeverino on competing in the American Association for Justice (AAJ) Student Trial Advocacy Regional Competition on March 10-13, 2022! Team AAJ, coached by alumni and Head Coach Phil Bather, Assistant Coach Mackenzie Brown, and Assistant Coach Sara Greco, had an exciting spring competition, making it all the way to the Semi-Finals!
TAHP Chair Willow Karfiol reflected on the team's efforts in preparing for the competition. She thanked her teammates, their Team Manager Kari Van Sinden, and their fellow TAHP-ers for helping them get to the Semi-Finals. "Being part of a competition team goes beyond the four competitors and coaches," said Karfiol.
"For a competition team to succeed, it really takes a village. We not only had the invaluable technical support from our Team Manager, Kari Van Sinden, but we also received support from all of our TAHP advocates, whether they were helping us with objections, playing practice witnesses, or providing pep talks. We really are a #tahpherd, and we could not have gotten to Semi-Finals without the whole team."
— Willow Karfiol, TAHP Chair
The American Association for Justice hosts the Student Trial Advocacy Competition (STAC), showcasing top future trial lawyers. This tournament is one of the premier trial advocacy competitions in the country. Regional tournaments are held across the country, and the winner of each region then competes in the National Finals. The winning team members are awarded a scholarship and invited to join AAJ at its annual convention in July.
This competition requires a team of four students: a team of two for the plaintiff and two for the defense. The advocates not competing in a round are doubled as witnesses. This year, the civil competition problem revolved around a wrongful death charge. The plaintiff side was Francisco Yeverino and Lauren Krug, while the defense side was Willow Karfiol and Victoria Levin.
Victoria Levin recounted her experience at the competition as challenging but rewarding, seeing their hard work pay off.
"This competition was the most challenging experience in my law school career. Prepping for a competition while working and taking five classes is tough. It requires sacrifice and commitment," said Levin. "But I had the greatest support system — my team and coaches. They made this experience so special by providing endless support, pushing me, and believing in me when I did not. When we finally got to compete after two months of preparation, it was so powerful to see all our hard work pay off. I am so proud of the work we did and how far we have come as advocates."
Her teammate Lauren Krug agreed with her sentiments, adding that their competition weekend was the highlight of her law school experience and that it brought their team even closer.
"As a team— including Kari Van Sinden, our invaluable technical support— we were already very close before receiving the problem. We grew closer through long nights preparing timelines, evidentiary arguments, practicing objections and impeachments, and some grueling practices building our respective cases in chief. I am so proud of us — how we supported each other throughout practice and how we competed in each round. Competition weekend is the highlight of my law school experience."
Francisco Yeverino also shared, "I am completely grateful for the opportunity to compete at the 2022 AAJ competition. This whole experience was amazing. At times it seemed like an impossible feat, but with the help of my teammates and coaches, the experience became invaluable and so thrilling. After months of working late nights, pushing ourselves to the brink of exhaustion, for our team to make it to the Semi-Finals was so rewarding."
"I could not have asked for a better team, a better set of coaches, and a better family. Thank you to TAHP for giving me this unforgettable experience. And thank you to my team for supporting me and pushing me to be the best advocate I can be. We gave it our all, and I couldn't be more proud of us. I have no doubt we will all be amazing attorneys and a force to be reckoned with. We did the thing!"
— Francisco Yeverino, TAHP Communications Chair
Huge shout out to Team AAJ for advancing to the Semi-Final Round! All advocates exhibited excellent trial advocacy skills throughout the mock trials. Please join us in congratulating all the advocates. The Trial Advocacy Honors Program is so proud of your dedication and advocacy skills in representing Southwestern!