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Trial Team Continues Record- Breaking Winning Streak

Published: March 11th, 2002

Category: News

3 UF Squads Going to Nationals

UF’s Trial Team won the American Trial Lawyers Association (ATLA) competition in Jacksonville last week, earning a spot for the law school in the national ATLA competition set for later this month in Chicago. This brings to three the number of UF Trial Team squads eligible for national competitions since two earned the right earlier this term to compete in the American Bar Association nationals in Dallas in April. UF and 15 other schools competed in Jacksonville, and the Gator team went 5-0 – eliminating Georgia State University in the semifinals and Florida State University in the finals. Fermin Lopez (bottom row, far right) and Chris Klemawesch were advocates, and Stacey Gross (fourth from right, top) and Kenneth Grace (third from right) were witnesses at the event. ATLA was the third of three spring regional competitions in which the UF team competed and won. The team won the American Bar Association Regional Competition in January, and Florida Bar Chester Bedell Memorial Competition for the second year in a row in February. “This is an unprecedented winning streak, and a wonderful reflection on the University of Florida,” noted Team President Michael Pike (fifth from left in page one photo). “It also is a great tribute to the memory of UF law Professor Jerry Bennett, who began Trial Team here years ago.” Approximately 40 students participate in Trial Team each year, working together to sharpen their advocacy skills. For each competition, squads of four members each are chosen to participate. “We work and support each other as one big team, and our victories belong to all 40 of us,” Pike said. “We also receive a lot of support from the college’s administration, our Faculty Advisor Carl Schwait, and local attorneys.” Schwait is an attorney with Dell Graham, P.A. in Gainesville. Pike said Gainesville attorneys Denise Ferrero and Brande Smith helped coach the ATLA team. Ferrero (J.D. ’92) is a former prosecutor and now with the Gainesville law firm of Avera & Avera, and Smith (J.D. ’00) is a former Trial Team member who is now a prosecutor for the 8th Judicial Circuit.

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