Tatiana Cook, Lauren Doig, Aaron Freedman, and Farai Shawa.
From top left, clockwise: Lauren Doig LAW ’21, Aaron Freedman LAW ’22, Farai Vyamucharo-Shawa LAW ’21, and Tatiana Cook LAW ’21

The Temple Trial Team dominated the Region IV championship round of the National Trial Competition, sending two squads to the final round and one on to the national championship, to be hosted virtually in early April by the Texas Young Lawyers Association. The triumph marks the 32nd regional victory in 35 years, but the first in Region IV, a move made necessary because the Temple Law advocacy faculty was also hosting the Region III tournament.

Temple was represented by Tatiana Cook LAW ’21, Lauren Doig LAW ’21, Aaron Freedman LAW ’22, and Farai Vyamucharo-Shawa LAW ’21. Cook and Vyamucharo-Shawa finished as finalists, while Doig and Freedman advanced to nationals. For Doig, the victory was particularly sweet: “I competed in this competition last year as a 2L and lost in the regional finals,” she explained. “I’ve been determined for the past year to come back and win it, and I couldn’t have done it without my amazing partner Aaron Freedman. It was also so amazing to see my teammates Tatiana and Farai dominate, which is such a testament to their incredible talent. I’m so proud that Temple was the only law school in our region to have two teams in the finals. The Temple Law Trial Team has the most incredible coaches and I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to learn from them. We could not have done this without them.”

Freedman also offered praise for both his teammates and their coaches, as well as for the trial team experience itself. “Preparing for any tournament is difficult, time-consuming, and requires grit. However, when you have teammates as talented as Lauren, Tatiana, and Farai, coupled with the most knowledgeable and inspiring coaches in the country, not only is the process fun, but you develop tangible skills that pay immediate dividends,” he said. “Even though we compete in mock trials, no one is interested in becoming the next great mock trial attorney. These tournaments act as fantastic vehicles for becoming the practicing attorneys we all someday hope to be. I feel honored to be even a small part of this storied program and hope to bring a national championship back to North Philadelphia, where it belongs.”

Professor Elizabeth Lippy, who together with Professor Marian Braccia and adjunct professor Maureen McCartney coached the squad, explained why this tournament is different. “Having competed for Temple Law as a law student at this particular competition, the regional trial competition holds an important place in my heart and memories, because it was crucial to my growth as a future attorney,” she said. “It is particularly challenging because you have ‘live’ witnesses that you can only meet with for 15 minutes before the round of competition, and teams are responsible to present both sides of the case – plaintiff and defense. Most importantly, the competition is fierce. These four Temple Law students made Temple Law proud this past weekend.”

For finalist Tatiana Cook, the competition represented the end of one chapter of her advocacy education, but also the beginning of the next. “As my last competition as an advocate on the National Trial Team I am so incredibly proud of all of the hard work put into this competition,” she said. “This competition was no joke— each advocate had to argue both sides of the case which posed challenges for all of us. It’s no surprise that my partner Farai Vyamucharo-Shawa did it with ease, but also was part of an incredible support system throughout this past month. I am so sad to be “leaving” Trial Team, but do we ever really leave? Trial team was the most rewarding experience of law school and I am ecstatic to have my teammates as my forever family. I want to thank my coaches Liz, Marian, & Maureen for providing such incredible support and being not just my coaches but my friends as well. While Farai and I didn’t make it to nationals I know Lauren Doig and Aaron Freedman will show Texas who is boss! I am so proud of them and can’t wait to cheer them on.”