Home Law School News Two Drake Law ABA appellate advocacy teams advance to nationals

Two Drake Law ABA appellate advocacy teams advance to nationals

From left to right: Jared Headrick, J.R. Kappelman, La’Cee Groetken, Thomas Bakke, Anagha Dixit, and Tracy Swalwell

Drake Law will have strong representation at the American Bar Association (ABA) National Appellate Advocacy Competition in Chicago in early April. Two Drake teams performed well through the competition to win the regional round and advance to nationals. Both Drake teams went undefeated through the entire competition.

The ABA Law Student Division National Appellate Advocacy Competition (NAAC) emphasizes the development of oral advocacy skills through a realistic appellate advocacy experience. Competitors participate in a hypothetical appeal to the United States Supreme Court. The competition involves writing a brief as either respondent or petitioner and then arguing the case in front of the mock court.

Approximately 200 teams compete in six regional competitions around the country, with the top four teams from each regional advancing.

“The team members did so well at the regional competition because they worked so hard to prepare,” says Donn Stanley, LW’00, special assistant attorney general at the Iowa Attorney General’s Office and coach of the ABA NAAC teams. “They knew the record, the law and the cases as well or better than any team in the competition.”

The team of La’Cee Groetken, Thomas Bakke, and Jared Headrick enjoyed wins over Campbell, Louisiana State University, South Texas, and Washington University (St. Louis) to win their bracket of the competition. They also came away with the award for second best brief.

The team of J.R. Kappelman, Tracy Swalwell, and Anagha Dixit bean Ohio Northern, St. Mary’s, Texas, Georgia, and finally Wayne State. Anagha Dixit was named third best speaker for the competition.
“We prepared by having a variety of professors, practitioners, and students act as judges and question us during our argument,” says Kappelman. “The experience helps us improve our ability to be flexible in making our argument. You never know what kind of question a particular judge may ask.”

Drake has had representation at the national finals in this competition in 2003, 2005, and 2011. This is the first time two teams have advanced.

“The level of preparation and dedication that both teams put into this were clearly reflected in how well we did at competition,” says Dixit. “Being able to think on your feet, having the confidence to go into each argument not knowing exactly what you will be asked, and getting to meet a group of peers that have the same level of enthusiasm and interest in oral advocacy are just a few of the great benefits of being a part of the ABA Moot Team.”

For Groetken and Dixit, this is the second time they’ll get to experience national competition. Both advanced through the ABA Arbitration Regional and were semifinalists at nationals.

“These ABA NAAC teams also won because of their outstanding character,” says Stanley. “They treated the Court, their opposing counsel and the process with respect. This is the best result for the Drake Law ABA team in 14 years we have competed in the event.”