Two McGeorge School of Law moot court teams advance to national championship

(From left to right) Alex Leshnick, Francia Orduño, Danielle Fatta Diele, Katherine Pollack, Ava Sutton, and Morgan Graber

(From left to right) Alex Leshnick, Francia Orduño, Danielle Fatta Diele, Katherine Pollack, Ava Sutton, and Morgan Graber

Two teams of University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law students will compete in the national championship of the American Bar Association National Appellate Advocacy Competition in Philadelphia.

The teams are advancing after winning their final round of the regional competition in San Francisco, which were held Feb. 29-March 2.

This rare accomplishment marks the fourth time in the last 15 years that McGeorge is sending two teams to the national finals in the most prestigious moot court competition in the country. The national round of the competition will be held April 4-6.

McGeorge School of Law’s moot court program is consistently ranked among the best in the nation. McGeorge was recently ranked as the No. 10 moot court program in the nation for its success during the fall 2023 semester, according to rankings published by the University of Houston Law Center. McGeorge finished second among the 18 American Bar Association-approved law schools in California.

At the regional competition, the team of third-year law students Francia Orduño ’24, Alex Leshnick ’24 and Danielle Fatta Diele ’24 was awarded the prize for the Best Brief. Orduño was also named Best Oralist.

"My experience at the competition was a whirlwind, in the best way possible,” Orduño said. “It was the culmination of months' worth of hard work and dedication, and I felt extremely honored to take part in this competition alongside such brilliant and talented teammates."

Third-year law students Morgan Graber ’24 and Ava Sutton ’24 also won their final round of the regional competition.

“We worked very hard and practiced a lot, but the fact that two of the four regional champion teams are from McGeorge is such a testament to our moot court program,” Graber said. “We are so excited to compete alongside other top teams from schools across the country.”

The teams were coached by Professor Dan Croxall ’08, Maricar Pascual ’16, Paige Davidson ’19 and third-year law student Katherine Pollack ’24. Second-year law student Marino Dominguez ’25 was the research assistant for the teams.

“I am incredibly proud of our two McGeorge teams who advanced to the national finals,” Croxall said. This competition is generally considered the most prestigious and most competitive in the country. Both teams are among the best I’ve ever coached in the last seven years. They put in the work, and they absolutely crushed it.”

McGeorge students competed alongside 31 other law schools in the regionals.

“Our success at the regional competition came down to two factors: the Global Lawyering Skills program and the support of our faculty and alumni. I am thankful to be a part of this team and look forward to representing McGeorge at the national competition,” Diele Fatta said.

The top four teams from each of the six regional competitions advance to the final rounds. The success of the McGeorge teams places them among one of the top 24 law school teams nationally.

“The regional competition was a great experience to compete with such a talented and dedicated team. I'm looking forward to representing the continued excellence of the McGeorge Moot Court Program in Philadelphia,” Leshnick said.

The National Appellate Advocacy Competition emphasizes written and oral advocacy skills through a realistic appellate advocacy experience. Competitors participate in a hypothetical appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which involves writing a brief as either petitioner or respondent and then arguing both sides of the case in front of the mock court.