The National Trial Team is a faculty-directed program for credit.
All UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law students who intend to compete on school-sponsored national or regional teams must first complete one or more courses directed at the kind of skills the desired competition features prior to entering such competition (e.g., appellate or trial advocacy, client counseling, negotiation). Students who intend to compete on student organization-sponsored national or regional teams are strongly encouraged to complete the courses, and must have a faculty coach for their team.
Membership in the trial team is a prestigious and highly coveted distinction that significantly enhances members’ law school experience. Bowen’s trial team comprises a select group of second and third year students who compete in interscholastic competitions throughout the United States.
The trial competitions require students to demonstrate their trial advocacy skills in a simulated jury trial, during which experienced trial lawyers and judges evaluate them. Students are exposed to advanced evidence and trial techniques through classroom, courtroom, and competition experience and participate in simulated trials.
Participating in mock trials while in law school allows students to gain standout skills that cannot be taught in the classroom. Trial Team is the students’ chance to put the skills they have learned to use in a safe setting before they are in a real-life trial.
Academic Information and Prerequisites
As prerequisites, participants must have taken Evidence and Lawyering Skills II. Students are also strongly encouraged to take the Moot Court Competition course. Team members are chosen by the faculty coaches from among students who express an interest in the competition. Completion of the required and encouraged courses does not guarantee selection for the Trial Team.
Students selected for the National Trial Competition Team will be required to take Advanced Litigation in the fall semester and will compete in a Trial Competition in the Spring Semester.
Students who wish to compete for credit on a traveling trial competition team sponsored by a student organization, must also have taken Evidence and must have taken, or be taking, Lawyering Skills II. These students are also encouraged to take the Moot Court Competition course. The student organization sponsoring the competition chooses the students to participate. Taking the required and recommended courses does not guarantee that a student will be chosen.
Calculating Co-Curricular Hours
Credits earned in the Advanced Litigation course count as classroom credits and do not count against the limit of eight co-curricular hours. Credit earned for participating in a competition (whether sponsored by the school or by a student organization) does count toward the limit of eight co-curricular hours. A list of the other co-curricular courses is available at section II.A.5 in the Academic Rules.
Requirement for Faculty Adviser/Coach
In addition to the above, you must have a faculty adviser/coach, whether or not members of the team want academic credit. The faculty adviser will grade the performances of those team members receiving academic credit.
2020-21 Trial Team Members
Leslie Alvarez is a first generation, third- year law student from Kingfisher, Oklahoma. She graduated from Oklahoma City University where she received a degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in psychology. Many of Leslie’s interests outside of law school include hiking, running, swimming, traveling, trying new foods, and spending quality time with her dog Bentley. After Law School, Leslie plans to pursue a career as a Criminal Prosecutor.
Marissa Badillo is a third-year law student from Frisco, Texas. She is a first-generation college graduate, and graduated from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, where she earned a B.S. in Political Science and a Minor in History. Marissa aspires to apply the knowledge and skills she’s acquired from the trial team and her clerkship experiences to a career in criminal law. Outside of law school, Marissa enjoys spending quality time with family and friends, staying active in the church community, and volunteering at equine therapy facilities.
Claire Cockrell is a concurrent second-year law student and masters student at the Clinton School of Public Service. She graduated from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and minors in Legal Studies, Indigenous Studies, and Criminal Justice. Cockrell is excited to build upon the skills she gained in undergraduate mock trial to become a stronger advocate. She also looks forward to her future roles as the Legal Justice Fellow at the Arkansas Appleseed Legal Justice Center in the summer session and as a law clerk at Cross, Gunter, Witherspoon, & Galchus in the fall.
Shyteria Dunlap is a rising 3L/4L. She is a Memphis native and mom to 4-year-old, Aydin. She has experience being on Bowen’s BLSA trial team and is excited to participate in Bowen’s Mock Trial team this year. Shyteria is a licensed educator, and upon graduation, she aspires to pair her education background and legal experience to advocate for juveniles as a juvenile defense attorney and eventually sit as a juvenile judge. Shyteria also plans to serve as a criminal defense attorney and trial litigator. She plans to use her trial team experience in her future roles as a trial advocate and building her legal skills altogether
Paige Harris is a second-year law student from Northamptonshire in the United Kingdom. After spending the 2015-16 year as an exchange student at Hendrix College in Conway, AR, Paige is back in Arkansas for law school! She is a graduate of the University of Plymouth, England, with a BSc (Hons) and an MA in International Relations. When not at law school, Paige enjoys going to barre classes (no, not that Bar just yet), watching Boston Bruins or Northampton Saints, and dropping trivia about the Eurovision Song Contest.
David Lee is a second-year law student from Maumelle, Arkansas. He graduated from the University of Central Arkansas, where he received a bachelor’s degree in History. David has an extensive background in Research and Public Speaking as he was a member of the Debate and Forensics team during his time at the University of Central Arkansas and was a Research Fellow for the Arkansas Center for Research in Economics. During his time at Bowen, he has clerked at the Pulaski County Public Defender’s Office and at the Law office of David Hodges. After Law School, he is interested in pursuing a career as a litigation or transactions attorney. Outside of Law School, David enjoys being with friends and family, video games, and reading.
Haden Majors is a third-year law student from Cabot, Arkansas. She graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a degree in business administration. While clerking in law school, one of the things she enjoys the most is getting to attend court and watch the different trial styles of the attorneys. She considers being a part of the trial team a rewarding and exciting experience because she is developing her own style and laying the foundation for her future career in litigation. When she is not studying, she enjoys going to the lake and being outdoors.
Jordyn Nykaza is from Arizona, so she will bring the heat to competition. She and her husband plan on staying in Arkansas upon graduation, which she thinks her cat appreciates because she loves it here. Jordyn is a Type 1 diabetic, cat-person, PHX Suns fan, and softball diehard. She is excited for competition and how it will help her work through the anxiety she feels when public speaking.
Alexis Smith is a second-year law student from Fort Worth, Texas. She majored in Psychology and double minored in English and Women and Gender Studies at the University of North Texas in Denton. She aspires to be a litigation attorney, so she’s looking forward to learning the skills from the trial team experience and utilizing them in her professional career after graduation. When Alexis isn’t studying or clerking, she enjoys playing tennis and traveling with her dog.
Erin Snelling is a third-year law student from Little Rock, Arkansas. She graduated from Mississippi State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology. Erin is involved in several organizations on campus and has clerkship experience in criminal and business law. In her free time, Erin participates in the Chi Eta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha and enjoys spending time with her family. She looks forward to gaining skills on the trial team that will help her thrive in litigation in the future.
Virginia Vanegas is a third-year law student from Sedalia, Missouri. She is a first-generation college student and received her Bachelor of Arts from Rockhurst University in 2018 with majors in communication studies, Spanish, and psychology. In addition to trial team, Virginia is the President of Bowen’s Latin American Law Student Association, the National Latina/o Law Student Association’s Director of Community Service, and she serves on the Hispanic National Bar Association’s Region XII planning committee responsible for organizing the region’s first summit. Lastly, she is on the Board of Directors for El Zocalo, Central Arkansas’s largest immigrant resource center. Her legal interests include immigration, employment, family, and criminal law. Outside of law school, she enjoys spending time with her dog, Bellamy.
Matthew Willard is a third-year law student from Bay, Arkansas. He completed his undergraduate studies at Arkansas State University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in history. He looks forward to gaining trial advocacy skills as a member of the trial team, as he hopes to work as a litigator following graduation. When he is not studying, he loves spending time with his family, watching sports, and hunting.