“We are training them for the real world as that’s where they are headed.”
Competitive Advocacy Program (CAP) Faculty Advisor Mario Conte sums up the ultimate goal he is seeking for his students in preparing them to become fierce competitors in the upcoming season of trial, appellate, Jessop, and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) competitions.
This fall’s eight teams, comprising of more than 30 competitors, enjoyed a traditional send-off recently at California Western ahead of the September through November season.
The teams, coaches, and Moot Court Honors Board (MCHB) members were present as the teams were handed their new purple California Western MCHB team shirts with the program’s well-recognized slogan “No Excuses” boldly embroidered on the sleeve. After the teams were introduced by their coaches, they took part in the tradition of “slapping the bottle.”
Explains Conte, “This Is something that was started based on the story of a football coach named Frank Howard from Clemson. Many years ago he had a big old rock, and before the season his team went through the tradition of slapping the rock. But before they got to slap the rock, he told them they had to give him 110 percent effort or ‘don't put your dirty hands on my rock.’”
So Conte changed the rock to a bottle of champagne, and since 2005 his teams have always slapped the bottle at their send-off.
Conte is proud of the success of his CAP teams who over the last six years have brought home more than 40 trophies. “This is tough,” says Conte. “This is the real world. These competitors have to work hard. It never stops. They have to study, take exams and work with their teams—and they don’t get summers off!”
Conte says the program is all based on a culture that has been developed. “You establish the culture of the program, and you never vary it. The teams have to buy into that culture, or they can’t be in it. To be part of a winning culture you have to have competitive stamina.”
The hard work and sacrifices are not without their reward, however. These would-be lawyers are probably some of the best in Southern California if not beyond, says Conte.
“The formula works,” he says. “We have over 90 percent employment rate for trial, appellate, Jessop, and ADR competitors.”