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CWSL Students Score Double First in Appellate Competition

California Western Moot Court Honors Board Appellate Competition Team members Caitlin Van Voorst and Arlena Parmar

In the history of the UC Davis Asylum & Refugee Law National Moot Court Appellate Competition, no team has ever won both the Top Brief Award and the Championship.

Two California Western students just broke that record.

In the recent competition, in the city of Davis just west of Sacramento, California Western Moot Court Honors Board Appellate Competition Team members Caitlin Van Voorst and Arlena Parmar were awarded both the First Place Top Brief award and the First Place overall Championship.

The UC Davis Asylum & Refugee Law National Moot Court Competition is the only competition in the nation devoted exclusively to the topic of asylum and refugee law.

Through five grueling rounds of competition, Van Voorst and Parmar beat out all competing schools, including Columbia, McGeorge, and Pepperdine Law Schools.

“The competition was fierce, and it was an honor to compete with so many students from prestigious law schools,” said Van Voorst. “It was a shock to be the recipient of both a brief award and the overall championship when there were so many great teams in attendance.”

Underlying this achievement is a tremendous amount of hard work, not only from the competitors but their coaches too, as Parmar acknowledged.

“We worked extremely hard and had a lot of late-night brief editing sessions and practices,” said Parmar. “I would like to thank our coach, Grant Porter '16, especially. He sacrificed a great deal of his time to coach two teams for this competition. Without his dedication, none of this would have been possible.”

Eighteen teams from around the country competed on a fictional legal issue regarding asylum law and statutory interpretation. Each team wrote a comprehensive brief to the fictional Supreme Court of the United States and performed oral arguments before judging panels consisting of practitioners, state judges, and UC Davis faculty.

“This double win is a reflection of the incredible dedication and hard work that our advocacy students all put toward their competitions,” said Paul Parisi, California Western’s Competitive Advocacy Program (CAP) Director. “I couldn't be more proud of Caitlin, Arlena, their coaches, and the entire Appellate Program for coming away with this huge victory and adding yet another award to our school's trophy case.”

Both students admitted they would benefit from California Western’s Competitive Advocacy Program and competing at this level far beyond their time in law school and urge other students to enroll in the program.

“I would encourage any 1Ls or 2Ls who are interested in appellate advocacy to get involved with the program,” said Parmar. “Competing on the appellate team has helped me elevate my writing and oral advocacy skills. I feel much more prepared to enter the field as a lawyer because of the skills I have developed from competing.”

For Van Voorst and Parmar, who are both graduating in April, this was their final competition, and they believe this was the perfect way to end their Cal Western experience.

“My time competing has changed the trajectory of my career and my plans post-bar,” Van Voorst revealed. “I was honored to represent Cal Western at a national competition.”