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Released on Apr 29, 2024
Monday Morning Message 4.29.24 Special Edition: Student Focus
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“To be an activist is to speak. To be an advocate is to listen. Society can’t move forward without both.” – Eva Marie Lewis

This Special Edition of the Monday Morning Message is called CSU|LAW Student Focus. It is intended to highlight and celebrate the individual and group achievements of our very talented CSU|LAW students. I send it twice each semester; the next edition will be in the fall semester.

To our students:  Final exams begin today. We want you to study hard, and be as focused, well-fed, nourished, and relaxed as possible!  So, during finals (today through Friday, May 10), we will provide coffee and snacks for all our students in the Dean’s Office, from 8am-6pm every weekday. 

Team Accomplishments
Mock Trial Team 
  • From April 3-7, the CSU College of Law Mock Trial Team participated in the National rounds of the AAJ Mock Trial Tournament in Chicago, IL. This competition consisted of the top 20 teams from their various regions across the Country that won their regional rounds which consisted of a total of 160 teams.

    Our foursome of Megan Porter (2L), Zach MacMillan (2L), Lina Girgis (2L), and Koby Adu-Poku (2L) performed tremendously, defeating South Texas and Campbell in the qualifying rounds, which earned them the right to advance to a field of 8 teams in the quarterfinals. Once in the quarterfinals, they were paired with the reigning back-to-back champs UCLA, in which CSU ultimately lost by just a single point!

This was the first time in CSU history that the Mock Trial Team made it to Nationals!

Despite losing to UCLA, CSU|LAW results in this competition are far from a loss. The majority of mock trial students that make it to Nationals are veteran 3Ls, whereas this entire foursome are 2L’s with an extra year of eligibility to defend their regional title.   Mock trial programs across the country are now certainly aware of CSU|LAW. The future is extremely bright for not only for this foursome, but the entire mock trial program.

The Mock Trial team is coached by Adjunct Faculty Julian Emerson and Jed Chedid (’21).

Moot Court Team
  • The CSU|LAW Moot Court Team of 3Ls Dana Bye and Noah Mumbach finished in the top 16 teams at the ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition held April 4-6 in Philadelphia. A total of 178 teams competed nationwide with only 24 qualifying for Nationals.

They were the first Cleveland State College of Law Moot Court Team to advance to the National Competition in more than 15 years and the only Ohio law school to be represented at Nationals!

Dana Bye also took home a 9th Best Advocate Award for her oral argumentperformance during the competition.   The team was coached by CSU|LAW Moot Court team alum, Dean Williams ’05. 

  • One of our CSU|Law Moot Court Competition teams comprised of 2Ls Cecilia Payne, William Olmstead, and Isaiah Smith competed in the 19th Annual National Moot Court Competition in Child Welfare & Adoption Law hosted by Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio in mid-March. The competition consisted of 26 teams from 18 law schools across 11 states.
    The team performed exceptionally well, making it to the final round and finishing as the runners-up. They were anchored by the dominant performance of Cecilia Payne. She argued in seven different rounds and was central to the team's success. Isaiah Smith also performed exceptionally well, particularly in the final round where he demonstrated a mastery of oral argument skills when confronted by a hot bench. The final round panel included our very own Justice Melody Stewart ‘88 who took the time to meet with our team at the conclusion of the competition. On top of all this, William Olmstead's performance that weekend won him the award for Best Oralist on the first day of the competition.
    The team was coached by Matthew Wagner, ‘20, and John Zoller, who graciously volunteered their time and efforts in preparing for this competition.
  • In early April, the CSU|Law Moot Court competition team of Jacob Bourquin and Julie Grace VanVliet competed in the Jerome Prince Memorial Evidence Competition hosted by Brooklyn Law School in Brooklyn, New York. There were 35 teams that competed from all over the country. Jacob and Julie won the award for Best Brief. They also finished the competition as quarterfinalists.
  • After a very competitive tryout season the 2024-2025 incoming Moot Court Team has been selected! The current 3L and 2L teams were incredibly impressed with all of the candidates which made deliberations challenging. The incoming members:

Serena Sammarone

Maeve Kozak

Callaghan Rubensaal

Christopher Horne

Annaliese Nunes

Akshara Balakrishnan

Nick Saflund

Phillip Wilson

Michael Cannavino

Anna Egensperger

Christopher Joyce

Katie Vincer Sears

Ivan Conrad

Brock Jones

Elizabeth Fitzgerald 


Student Organization Accomplishments
  • The Student Public Interest Organization (SPILO) had a successful year hosting more than eight events for the CSU|LAW student body. They also had a successful annual fundraiser. The collected funds will be used to provide stipends to students working in unpaid or underpaid public interest internship positions this summer.
  • The CSU|LAW National Lawyers Guild (NLG) had a successful year. Their achievements include:
Quick Overview
  • Offered programming to over 230 total attendees at 3 educational events, and 3 film screenings, including over 35 speakers, at 6 panels, 4 workshops, and a state-wide virtual Legal Observer & Know Your Rights training.
  • Partnered with 12 community organizations, unions, and government agencies, and 17 different student organizations in various ways. 
  • Secured $2950 from SBA, $1054 from Ohio-NLG, and around $800 in private donations. 
  • Raised $2115.63, and 57.02 pounds of food to return to the community through our annual school-wide service project.
  • Paid for 5 out of 10 students to attend the 2024 Peggy Browning Workers Conference.
  • Students participated as legal observers to support the community at around 12 actions. 
  • Will leave $160 in our roll-over account to start the 2024-2025 school year.
  • Will end with 79 people on our active roster, after having moved 37 graduates onto alumni roster.
General Activity 
  • All events were free to attend, most served food, and when appropriate, offered free CLE credits.
  • Ongoing: Back-to-School Welcome Event at Becky’s, Sidebar, Student Org Fair, Palestinian Liberation efforts, Service Project, ongoing chapter sustainability efforts, student advocacy and allyship initiatives.
  • Liberation Lab; Lessons From the Modern Abolitionist Movement: this two-day series was a collaborative event in solidarity with the InterReligious Task Force on Central America and Columbia in Cleveland: Day I: Duty of Dissent in a State of Injustice brought in a life-long movement lawyer and organizer from Atlanta, the ACLU Policy Director of Ohio, and the executive director from IRTF, to discuss protest policy, the recent RICO indictment surrounding the Cop City protests, and organizing strategies. Following the discussion we screened the movie, the Trial of the Chicago 7. 
  • Day II; Building Worlds Not Jails was a day of workshops and panels ranging from intersectional allyship in the movement to a duel Know Your Rights & Legal Observing Training. 
  • Signature Event: 2024 State of Labor Summit: This was our first year hosting what we intend to be an annual, union-side labor and policy summit. Starting at 2pm, we offered 3 panels on subjects such as organizing strategy, marginalized worker populations, the history of the Flint Sit-Down Strike, and state and federal labor policy.
Other Initiatives
  • Peggy Browning Workers Rights Conference: In 2023-2024 CSU|Law sent the largest delegation of law students in the country to this conference, and our NLG chapter is happy to report we were able to pay for half of the tickets. In addition, based on a special budgetary arrangement we negotiated with the conference, they now offer an “Early Bird” special to make it easier for all student organizations to make the most of their university allocated funds that often get withdrawn at the end of Spring semester. 
  • Paid Externships: This initiative was spearheaded by the SBA Academic Committee, several of whom are also NLG members. Volunteer student members joined the committee, including MLS students, part time, and students from other organizations. NLG members participated in the research, drafting of the proposal, and shared their personal experiences with faculty decision makers in both public forums and focused meetings. Advocacy on this subject is ongoing. 
  • Palestine Liberation: In November, we drafted and issued a joint statement with the Arab Law Student Association (ALSA), CSU Students for Justice in Palestine, all NLG chapters in Ohio, and ten other organizations, condemning the U.S. backed war crimes against Palestinians, as well as attacks on free speech. In addition, our chapter joined ALSA to screen the movie OMAR about a Palestinian freedom fighter, promoted and participated in a ceasefire now protest of state and local representatives, promoted and joined a benefit concert for the Palestine Children's Relief Fund at the Happy Dog, signed onto a variety of national and local initiatives in solidarity, and shared and raised awareness using social media. Advocacy on this subject is ongoing. 
  • Service Project:  This year, we tripled what we raised our first year (though we raised less in direct pounds of food) and will be able to contribute just over $700 each to Norma Herr Women’s Shelter, the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, and Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless
Sustainability & Challenges
  • Sustainability // CSU-NLG Alumni Ambassadors: We now have 67 alumni, and this year, several started a new alumni program for their own networking and to support progressive students. For now, this will consist of: 
  • Outline Bank - expected to be ready in time for finals, stay tuned! 
  • “Con-grad-ulations!” Party! End-of-Year CSU-NLG chapter gathering to congratulate the 1Ls for making it through their first year and give the graduates a proper send off! This will take place right in between finals and commencement - Wednesday, May 15th, 5-7 at Brew Dog in the flats. Plenty of free parking, and free food will be provided. Stoles will be given to graduates (if you can’t make it, we can make arrangements to get it to you another way) and swag bags for all 1Ls in attendance. Feel free to bring along friends, all are welcome! 
  • Lefty Happy Hour - a casual, monthly happy hour, centrally located promoted to leftist organizations for the purpose of industry networking and community. Always free parking & free food. Third Wednesdays, 5-7:00pm. Follow @ohionlg on Instagram for more information or write to ohionull@nlg.nullorg to be added to the newsletter and calendar invite. 
  • Challenge // Financial Sponsorship: We are looking for ongoing chapter financial sponsors so that we can finance conference attendance, offer different kinds of events, and provide more services to working-class students such as book and test-fee scholarships, emergency funds when needed, etc.  The State of Labor Summit gave us several potential partners to explore, and we are in the process of follow-ing up with them. 
  • Challenges // Recognized Members: Headed into 2024-2025 we have 79 people on our active roster, after having moved 37 more people onto the alumni roster. We’ve found it challenging throughout the year to move people into the fully “recognized member” category, which allows them to vote and participate in elections. In part, we believe this is due to complications with Vikes Connect, and also because we need to find better ways to help members understand the importance of active participation and sustainability of the community through membership and connection to the national bar. 
  • Challenges: In-person student event attendance We’ve heard that since Covid, this has been a struggle for many orgs, but despite our best efforts, we’ve been challenged to engage with students directly. We think this is partially due to bandwidth and schedules as well as shifting social habits. However, we think that by advertising our events earlier, as well as by creating more opportunities to attend social events in casual settings, we can encourage students to attend in-person, which will help to support the incoming 1L class and strengthen overall camaraderie. 

Have a great day. Have a great week.

My best,


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