Strong Finish at Trial Advocacy Nationals

BYU Law’s Trial Advocacy Team continued its run of victories as it placed in the top four at the recent National Finals in Houston. The tournament took place March 11–14, following the regional competition in Denver two months earlier. It is groundbreaking success  for BYU Law.

In total, 315 teams from over 150 law schools participated in this year’s competition. Garrett Messerly, Trial Advocacy President, and his partner, Grace Pusavat, a fellow 3L, placed over 309 other competitors. The pair had one month to prepare their arguments for the criminal case that consisted of a first-degree assault charge to which the defendant pled self-defense.

“Garrett and Grace were absolutely brilliant,” said Peter Leavitt, Trial Advocacy coach. “I can’t remember the last time I saw a trial where the advocates were as polished, professional, and persuasive as they were round after round at this competition.  They both have very bright careers ahead of them.  I would take either one of them as co-counsel anytime, no matter what the case.”

“The excellency in advocacy throughout the competition was amazing,” Messerly said. “Everyone was really polished, really sharp, and really well-spoken. It definitely helped me raise my own expectations. It was also great to meet law students interested in trial work from all over the country.

“Also, this was an amazing opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the best trial attorneys and judges in the nation. Every night was a different reception where we had an opportunity to network with amazing lawyers. The Fellows of the American College of Trial Lawyers acted as our judges and jury members during the competition, and to receive feedback from them was wonderful.”

Messerly, who will practice litigation after graduating in April, especially enjoyed the opportunity to attend and compete. “I would say this was the highlight of my law school career,” he stated. “I can remember being a 1L thinking how cool it would be to represent BYU at a competition, and it definitely was! I loved the competition, and I love trial work. I have never been so nervous and stressed in my life, but it was a lot of fun and worth it.”

Messerly attributed success to dedication and their coach. “We have a great coach, Peter Leavitt,” Messerly said. “He is a District Attorney in Salt Lake City. We got together at nights and on weekends to practice.”

The National Trial Competition is co-sponsored by the American College of Trial Lawyers
and co-sponsored and hosted by
the Texas Young Lawyers Association.