Alumni Volunteers Create Sustainable Trial Advocacy Program
In 2008, the law school hosted the National Institute for Trial Advocacy’s 20th annual Tournament of Champions (TOC) trial competition. Alumni, friends, tournament volunteers, and past and current Trial Team and Moot Court Board members were there to kick off the tournament, and to celebrate one of the most significant gifts to the Trial Advocacy Program in its history.
Recognizing the importance of trial advocacy in the legal profession and seeking to ensure the continued success of Maryland Carey Law’s Trial Advocacy Program, Stuart ’71 and Suzanne ’73 Salsbury established the Stuart M. and Suzanne B. Salsbury Trial Advocacy Fund with a major gift to the law school.
Stuart and Suzanne recall their time in law school, and “the limited trial advocacy opportunities available.” The Salsburys knew that achieving and maintaining a high quality, nationally ranked advocacy program required a commitment to its success, and hoped through this gift to establish “a more robust advocacy program at the law school.” Their gift did just that, and ensured that the law school’s program had the funding necessary to not only continue its status as one of the nation’s premiere advocacy programs, but also continue to attract talented students to the program.
Five years later, the Trial Advocacy Program is recognized as one of the top programs in the United States. “It is remarkable that the team has garnered such national acclaim, and it’s gratifying to have been able to make a difference,” says Stuart. Because of the Salsburys’ support, a multitude of opportunities are now available to students to participate in an array of trial and appellate advocacy competitions.
“The foresight and generosity of our friends Stuart and Suzanne Salsbury made it possible for our law school to develop a Trial Advocacy Program second to none," said Jerome Deise, director of the Trial Advocacy Program. "Beyond their generous financial gift, Stuart and Suzanne, both outstanding trial lawyers, set the standard of excellence for our Trial Advocacy Program, excellence -- in the art of persuasion, in the techniques of trial advocacy and, most important, in the values of professionalism. The Salsburys made our dream to create an outstanding trial advocacy program a reality."
During the last academic year, the Trial Team consisted of 24 students and competed in nine competitions, the largest number of competitions in one year since the inception of the team in 1999. The team participates in an Advanced Trial Advocacy class taught by Prof. Deise, and is coached by Managing Director of the Clinical Law Program, AJ Bellido de Luna ’04.
Last year, the team advanced beyond the preliminaries six times, and won two competitions. The Trial Team also won several "Best Advocate" awards, and participated in competitions in Texas, California, Nevada and New York. This academic year, the team has already traveled to Michigan, Illinois, and California to compete, and continues to be successful.
“While continued success in national trial advocacy competitions remains an important goal of our program, our primary goal is, and will remain, to prepare our students for the honor, privilege and responsibility they will accept as members of the bar to serve their clients...and continue to bring honor to our law school in the noblest traditions of the bar,” says Deise.
Since 1999, more than 40 judges have offered time, assistance, and experience as the Trial Team conducts full, mock trials in preparation for competitions. “The members of the Francis King Carey School of Law National Trial Team have earned the respect of countless judges, lawyers, professors and students throughout the nation for their talent, skill, preparation, ability and professionalism,” notes Deise.
Judge Lynne A. Battaglia ’74 of the Maryland Court of Appeals has judged many Trial Team practice rounds. “I always am so impressed with the caliber of the Maryland Carey Law students who participate in the trial teams and their preparation for, as well as the eloquence of, their presentations.”
In any given year, more than 15 law school alumni support the team and coach, including Benjamin Salsbury ’07, who is just as passionate about the Trial Team as his parents. Ben was a member of the Trial Team and student coach of that 2006 championship team that brought the TOC to the University of Maryland Carey School of Law in 2008. The Salsbury's credit the law school, the coaches, volunteers, and the amazing students for the accomplishments and successes of the Trial Advocacy Program, and “are eager to see what the future holds.”
--Written by Heather Spurrier '03