Months of preparation have paid off for the St. Thomas University Moot Court team.

The group recently returned from a regional competition in Fitchburg, MA, with four bids to the American Moot Court Association National Championships in Dallas, TX, and multiple speaker awards.

Jarrod Ryan and Dominique Goguen were the top finishers, placing third out of 50 teams, while Abbie LeBlanc and Navy Vezina finished fourth, Olivia Ricketts and Elizabeth Tuck placed seventh, and Laura Robinson and Kelly Brennan finished ninth.

This was the first competition for Ryan, a third-year Human Rights and Political Science student, and it couldn’t have gone much better.

“I wasn’t expecting to qualify, but it was definitely my goal,” he said. “I’m a really competitive person, so to accomplish it felt great for sure.”

Cases for the regional moot court competitions are released in May and students spend months preparing their arguments. It’s the way the STU team prepares that Ryan believes makes the biggest difference at competition time.

“We over-prepare in the best sense of the word because we try to prepare for everything, and Dr. DiPaolo is an amazing coach,” he said.

“We’ve built this reputation that St. Thomas is a school that can go and compete with American schools, so I think that’s something we all try to live up to.”

It was that strong reputation that brought Ryan—who has always wanted to pursue law—to St. Thomas three years ago.

“Moot Court was the main reason I chose St. Thomas University,” he said. “I worked at a law firm for my co-op in grade 12 and was working with a STU alum who had gone to law school, so it was just an obvious step for me to come to STU.”

Ryan’s highlight of the Fitchburg competition was watching his partner’s reaction when they qualified.

“We thought we had lost to the College of Holy Cross. The way they do it is they call the team that won first, so they called out team 30—which was us—and then called out the other team and Dominique stood up,” he said.

“I was like ‘no, no we won,’ and you could tell it started to click for her and the excitement on her face was definitely a highlight. English is her second language, so she worked super hard on her public speaking and she crushed it.”

Seven Speaker Awards

On top of earning bids to nationals, STU Moot Court earned seven of the top 20 Speaker Awards. LeBlanc (2nd), Vezina (3rd), Ryan (7th), Tuck (8th), Robinson (17th), Brennan (18th), and Ricketts (19th) were all among the top performers at the competition.

Robinson, a fourth-year Human Rights major, said receiving the speaker award meant a lot to her and was an indication of the hard work put in during her three years with Moot Court.

“Growing up, public speaking was very difficult for me, so to be able to get up and deliver a presentation confidently and win an award makes me really proud,” she said.

“It demonstrates how much I have improved over the years with hard work and the help of my team.”

Last year, Robinson and Brennan, her partner, missed out on a bid to nationals by just a few points, so they’re excited to see what they can do at this year’s national competition in Dallas.

“I’m excited to compete and excited to help each team make it that bit further themselves in the tournament,” she said.

“I’m excited for Kelly and I to finally meet our goal of making it to nationals and to push ourselves that bit further to see what more we can do.”

STU Moot Court also earned at least two bids to Dallas at a regional competition in Albany in November. Read more about that here.