Alongside faculty advisor Professor Mario Conte, the student-run Moot Court Honors Board (MCHB) creates and administers all on-campus competitions and organizes and develops the traveling teams that represent California Western School of Law throughout the nation. The MCHB comprises a nine-student Executive Board that includes officers, team coordinators, and sophisters, and is assisted by student-members of the General Board.
225 Cedar St. San Diego, CA 92101
California Western's Moot Court Honors Board is well-known nationally for the successes of its competition teams, but also for its consistency in developing individuals that stand out in the post-graduation applicant pool, and ultimately go on to become great attorneys.
Faculty Advisor Mario Conte regularly hears positive feedback from judges after having a MCHB graduate in the courtroom, praising their professionalism, courteous nature, and possession of a legal skillset that distinguishes them from their peers.
About Our Teams
California Western's trial competition teams prepare and conduct trials before judges. The teams perform direct and cross-examination of witnesses, make motions and objections, and make opening and closing arguments.
Teams compete intrascholastically with other California Western students in the George N. Gafford and David M. Gill Trial competitions, and nationally at the intercollegiate John Marshall Mock Trial Competition, the Association of Trial Lawyers Competition, the National Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers Competition, and the San Diego Defense Lawyers Mock Trial Competition, among others.
Advice for Students Interested in Joining the Trial Team Program
California Western's appellate teams write appellate briefs and then advocate their position to a panel of judges and field questions from the bench.
Teams compete intrascholastically with other California Western students in the William C. Lynch Appellate Competition, and nationally at the intercollegiate Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, the USD Criminal Procedure Moot Court Competition, Pepperdine Entertainment Law Competition, Thomas Tang Moot Court Competition, National Appellate Advocacy Competition, and the Whittier National Juvenile Law Moot Court Competition, among others.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
There are two separate ADR teams at California Western—Negotiation and Mediation. Both teams utilize collaboratively generated and mutually beneficial solutions to solve problems and put into practice.
Individuals compete intrascholastically with other California Western students in a one-on-one negotiation competition, and teams compete nationally at the intercollegiate Robert R. Merhige Environmental Negotiation Competition, the ABA Negotiation Competition, and the Client Counseling Negotiation Competition, among others.
How to Get Involved
How Do You Join a California Western Trial Team?
California Western students have the opportunity to compete in moot court exercises early in their law school careers - intrascholastic competitions that are the first step in becoming a member of a traveling intercollegiate competition team.
Trial and Appellate Teams
In their second semester, first-year California Western students are eligible for MCHB-administered intrascholastic competitions, where performance can lead to designation as a Distinguished Advocate (DA). Finalists in both the David M. Gill Trial Competition and the 1L Appellate Competition are candidates for DA awards.
Students who have received DA awards may then apply to take California Western's Trial Skills" or Appellate Skills classes, commonly referred to as DA Summer Camp. Acceptance into the intense 14-week trial- or appellate-dedicated camp is predicated on a review of the student's competition history, as well as academic performance.
Upon completion of DA Summer Camp, qualified advocates are selected for traveling competitive trial and appellate competition teams.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Teams
At California Western, there are ADR events throughout the year that focus specifically on negotiation and/or mediation. These competitions are the primary way in which students are selected for the traveling negotiation and mediation teams.
For more information on California Western's Moot Court Honors Board, including the process involved in joining a traveling competition team, please visit the MCHB Student Bar Association website.
Upon graduation, traveling team participants who stay in the San Diego area are invited back as team coaches; currently, 98 percent of coaches involved in the program are alumni from the last six years.
What Have You Learned From the Trial Team Program?
Successful MCHB Alumni
Deborah S. Dixon '07
California Western's current president of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, Moot Court Honors Board alumna Deborah Dixon is a Senior Trial Attorney at Gomez Trial Attorneys. Previously, she was named partner at Wingert Grebing—the prestigious local firm where she began as a student law clerk—just five years after graduating from law school.
Deborah's enthusiastic nature, unwavering work ethic, and dedication to the pursuit of justice extends beyond the practice of law, as she remains actively involved at California Western. In addition to serving as president of the alumni board, she is an adjunct professor of the Distinguished Advocates Trial Skills class, and coaches intrascholastic trial competitors as well as the traveling teams that represent the law school in competitions throughout the nation.
Christopher M. Lawson '05
Moot Court Honors Board alumnus Christopher Lawson serves as a San Diego County deputy district attorney assigned to the Gang Prosecution Unit, where he prosecutes murders and other violent crimes.
During his law school career, Christopher competed in multiple national trial team competitions, and since graduation, he has served as a member of the adjunct faculty, teaching Trial Skills for Distinguished Advocates, and has coached numerous trial teams at the law school that have competed around the country. Despite his busy work schedule, Christopher also volunteers some of his free time to judging local trial and appellate advocacy competitions.
Recent Competition Results
- First Place, Inaugural San Diego Law Schools Head-to-Head Competition, 2014
- Finalist, San Diego Defense Lawyers Mock Trial Competition, 2012
- Semifinalist, Texas Young Lawyers Association National Trial Competition, 2012
- Semifinalist, American Association for Justice Student Trial Advocacy Competition, 2012
- Seventh Place, National Criminal Trial Advocacy Competition, 2012
- First Place, San Diego Defense Lawyers Mock Trial Competition, 2011
- Second Place, San Diego Defense Lawyers Mock Trial Competition, 2011 and 2010
- Top Oralist Award, National Juvenile Law Moot Court Competition, 2015
- Second Place, National Juvenile Law Moot Court Competition, 2015
- First Place, National Entertainment Law Competition, 2014
- Quarterfinalist, National Entertainment Law Competition, 2013
- Finalist, Thomas Tang Moot Court Competiton - Regional Round
- Invitee, Thomas Tang Moot Court Competition – National Round, 2013
- Semifinalist, Thomas Tang Moot Court Competition – Regional Round, 2013
- First Place Brief, ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition, 2013
- Semifinalist, ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition, 2013
- Quarterfinalist, ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition, 2013
- Quarterfinalist, USD National Criminal Procedure Competition, 2012
- Fifth Place Brief, USD National Criminal Procedure Competition, 2012
- Invitee, Philip C. Jessup International Moot Court Competition – International Rounds, 2011
- Second Place, Pacific Super-Regional, Philip C. Jessup International Moot Court Competition, 2011
- Invitee, Philip C. Jessup International Moot Court Competition – International Rounds, 2010
- Pacific Super-Regional Champion, Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, 2010
- First Place, California Bar Environmental Negotiation Competition, 2015
- Invitee, ABA Negotiation Nationals, 2012 and 2013
- Third Place, ABA Negotiation Regionals, 2012
- First Place, ABA Negotiation Regionals, 2011
- Finalist, California Bar Environmental Negotiation Competition, 2012, 2011, and 2010