[UF LAW eNews - a publication of the Levin College of Law @ the University of Florida]

Home | Print article | Contact eNews

3L awarded best advocate at ABA national moot court competition; team finishes in top 16

Wilbert Vancol

Wilbert Vancol (3L) brought home the National Best Advocate Award from the ABA National Moot Court Competition on April 8. (Photo by Vincent Massaro)

The American Bar Association says UF Law student Wilbert Vancol (3L) is the best advocate at the nation's top moot court competition.

Vancol won the National Best Advocate Award at the ABA National Moot Court Competition in Chicago on April 8. It is the highest award given to an individual in the competition and goes to the competitor who demonstrates the strongest advocacy skills.

Vancol's award is like winning the Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA men's basketball tournament, said UF Law Professor Henry T. Wihnyk, the Florida Moot Court Team faculty advisor. That's because he was going up against the best students on the nation's best moot court teams.

"I am proud of and impressed by Wilbert's achievement. The ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition is the premier moot court event of the year. Law schools from every region of the United States participate each year," Wihnyk said.

"Wilbert's selection as the best in the nation is a testament to his talent, hard work and dedication. This highlights the excellence of the Florida Moot Court Team and the superb skills training the students receive at the University of Florida Levin College of Law," Wihnyk said.

Scores for oral arguments range from 50 to 100. Vancol said a typical average for an advocate is in the upper 80s. His average score for the competition was 95, the highest among any of the competitors on the 24 teams. Vancol comes from Miami and he transferred to UF Law from Florida A&M College of Law after his first year.

The April 9 competition featured two teams from the University of Florida. The team led by Vancol advanced to the Sweet 16, but fell short in that round. The team composed of Vancol, Katie Tinsley (3L) and Leah Edelman (3L) advanced into the second day of the competition after winning both of their preliminary rounds. The team was knocked out by the Duke University School of Law moot court team, the eventual national champions.

The second Florida moot court team was composed of David Evans (3L), David Hughes (3L) and Monica Haddad (2L). The two teams and their coaches, C. Andrew Roy (3L), Leigh Anne Siddle (3L) and Samantha Crawford (3L), have prepared since November for these competitions, which involved a mock Supreme Court case.

To get into the national competition, teams must finish in the top four of their regional bracket. The Florida Moot Court Team ran the gauntlet in their Boston Regional last month. Both teams dominated oral arguments and moved onto nationals. The teams prepared for the competition by showcasing their talents in February for the Maguire Appellate Advocacy Competition, which was judged by the Florida Supreme Court.