Among the many adjustments law schools and their students have made during the COVID-19 pandemic is a transition to online advocacy competitions, and just as they have in courtrooms and classrooms across the country, Temple’s competitors have shone.

Third-year law student Chelsey Dawson was one of five members of the Temple Trial Team to enter the first trial advocacy competition built to run on-line, co-sponsored by UCLA and Fordham. The competition, aptly titled the National Online Opening Statement, required participants to record and submit an opening statement that was then judged by volunteers drawn from trial advocacy faculty, adjuncts, and coaches across the country.

Of the 170 students from 60 schools who submitted video entries, Dawson’s statement was ranked 8th nationally. “Chelsey’s competition performance realized all the tenets of advocacy training at Temple Law: persuasive and strategic storytelling with broad-range delivery, strongly rooted in the law of Evidence. A winning combination!” said Professor Marian Braccia, who served as one of Dawson’s coaches. In addition to Professor Braccia, Dawson was coached by Chris DeBarrone Sarobe and Maureen McCartney, both of whom have coached her since high school.

“Chelsey has been an outstanding student during her time at Temple,” said Professor Sara Jacobson, who directs Temple’s Trial Advocacy program. “While balancing obligations for both Law Review and Trial Team, she has proved herself, time and again, to be the consummate Temple advocate- thoughtful, a supportive teammate, and a top-rate trial lawyer. Her performance here caps off an impressive career on the Trial Team, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.”

For Dawson, while the experience of competing online wasn’t something she had even imagined for herself, when it became reality she found herself well-prepared. “I was just incredibly grateful to get the opportunity to compete one final time,” she said. “I have been doing mock trial since I was a freshman in high school and even then I was fortunate enough to be coached by several Temple Trial Team alumni—one of whom coached me virtually for this online competition. I picked Temple Law because I wanted to become the best advocate I possibly could; the commitment and drive of all involved in the Temple Trial Advocacy program just confirm I made the right decision. While I never imagined my final act as a Temple Trial Team member would be in an online competition, I owe all success I had to the individuals who have coached me over the years from high school through now. I’m incredibly grateful to be a Temple trained advocate.”