Quinnipiac University

Law student finishes in top 10 of national trial advocacy competition

April 27, 2020

Caitlin Murphy in a mock courtroom, speaking to a mock jury

Caitlin Murphy, JD ’20, finished 7th out of 170 students in the United States in the inaugural National Online Trial Advocacy Competition, co-hosted by Fordham and UCLA Law.

The competition invited students from across the country to submit opening statements from an abridged case file, captioned: United States v. Mel Tam. The case was a loose adaption of the celebrity college admissions cheating scandal. Students were required to quickly pick a side, prepare an opening statement and record it for submission, keeping the school affiliation anonymous.

“We could not be prouder of Caitlin’s accomplishment and overall development as an advocate,” said Ryan O’Neill, a partner at a Connecticut-based law firm. “Beyond Caitlin, we continue to be inspired by the resolve of all of our students, who continue to not only endure these tough times, but also find ways to shine amid difficult circumstances.”

O’Neill and Sean McGuinness, who are both attorneys and teach mock trial at Quinnipiac, coached Murphy.

With very limited assistance from her coaches, Murphy quickly put together an outstanding opening statement acting on behalf of the defense. Recorded in her living room, Murphy set the stage for the college admissions scandal, drawing on her Quinnipiac Law school mock trial experience.

Caitlin Murphy in a mock courtroom, speaking to a mock jury

See her opening argument here:

In total, more than 400 judges, lawyers, coaches and professors from across the United States scored opening statements from 170 students representing 67 law schools. After the first round of scoring, the top 30 submissions were selected and scored by a separate set of judges. Of those 30 students, the top 10 were again scored by a separate set of judges, who ultimately determined the order of the 10 amazing finalists. The results were revealed on April 17.

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