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Liberty’s Pre-Law competition teams succeed across the board

Liberty’s Moot Court teams were composed of 18 students.

The Liberty University Helms School of Government’s Pre-Law teams found success this past academic year, faring well at regional and national competitions and bringing home a national championship.

Liberty fields undergraduate competition teams in Moot Court, Mock Trial, and Negotiations.

Following an American Moot Court Association national championship victory in January 2021, Liberty’s Moot Court roster grew from eight teams to 18, with five Moot Court squads qualifying for nationals this year and two of those five reaching the top 32.

In the Mock Trial program, which competes in the American Mock Trial Association, the A team recorded the program’s strongest showing in program history, finishing regionals in first place (7-1) before tallying an impressive showing at the Open Round Championship Series Tournament (ORCS) (4-4). The team found itself up against powerhouses in the University of Alabama, Rhodes College, University of Missouri, and University of Oklahoma.

Liberty’s Mock Trial A Team

To close the year, the school sent two students, Dalton Davis and Collyn Kim, to the National Undergraduate Negotiation Competition at Baylor University to compete for the title, a victory that they secured above 20 other schools.

“I am deeply grateful for the support of our coaches and the administration at Liberty that equipped each of the teams to compete at the highest levels in a manner that represents the university and Christ well,” said Davis, who recently graduated with a degree in business administration and will attend law school in the fall.

Davis competed for all three teams. He also won third place for best orator at Moot Court nationals.

“I loved how each of the teams helped me to grow as an individual,” he said. “Moot Court strengthened my intellectual curiosity. Mock Trial developed my collaborative and public speaking skills, and Negotiations built my ability to creatively solve complex problems while seeking to understand another person’s position.”

“It’s been the best part of my undergraduate experience so far,” said sophomore criminal psychology student Emma Scharstein, a Moot Court and Mock Trial A team competitor. “There are so many incredible people on the program that I’m blessed to work with every day. There’s just so much talent, and that sort of environment constantly pushes me to do my best and work harder.”

The Helms School of Government sponsors these extracurriculars in its Pre-Law degree program to provide students a premium experience leading up to law school.

“The way that the Helms School supports us shows each team member that there are people who believe in us and want us to succeed,” Scharstein said. “Without them, we wouldn’t have these incredible experiences and programs that are setting us up for future success.”

Scharstein emphasized the leadership of Dr. Benjamin Rathsam, who coached Moot Court and Mock Trial.

Dr. Benjamin Rathsam (middle) alongside Negotiations champions Dalton Davis (left) and Collyn Kim

“Dr. Rathsam is what keeps his program together,” she said. “He gives us 110 percent each and every day. He takes the time to help and coach each individual member of our program. As the sole coach for a 40-plus person program, that’s not an easy thing to do, but he shows up for us each and every day. He makes us feel like we each have a unique role to play in the success of this program. Without him, Moot Court and Mock Trial would not be the incredible experiences that they are.”

Rathsam said these avenues aid students with critical reading, arguing, and presentation experience, as well as working in a team environment.

“Whether you want to go to law school or not, there are certain characteristics and skill sets you’re going to need in almost any job,” he said. “Whether it’s Dean Robert Hurt, Associate Dean Joel Cox, or the staff in general … I can’t do it without their support. It’s such a blessing that not every school gets, and it’s definitely not something we take for granted.”

For more information on the teams, email Dr. Benjamin Rathsam at brathsam@liberty.edu.