A team of students who are Black Law Student Association (BLSA) members took first place at a regional mock trial competition and is now headed to nationals this spring.
Ariel Archie ’25, Ashley Raines ’25, Lincoln Marino ’24, and Bradley Marshall ’25 demonstrated their exceptional oral argument skills at the Western Regional Constance Baker Motley Mock Trial Competition, held at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles over the Martin Luther King Day weekend. Marino was also recognized with the Best Advocate Award.
The competition was comprised of regional BLSA chapters from law schools throughout the Western U.S.
BLSA President Archie said that it is important for Black law students to have opportunities to compete just with one another — especially those who attend schools with few Black students and faculty members.
“It’s a chance to get feedback from legal professionals who look like you do. Often when students compete, many judges are not Black, so some of the feedback might be a little skewed and doesn’t come from someone who has the same lived experience as you,” Archie said. “In the back of your head, you’re always wondering how different of interactions and feedback you would get if the person understood where you were coming from.”
As an example, Archie worries that he comes across as aggressive when he is arguing in court, which conforms with a historic stereotype of Black men.
For their mock trial problem, the competitors assumed roles for either the prosecution or the defense in a murder trial of parents accused of killing their own daughter. The same case will appear at the national competition in Houston this spring, but some facts and circumstances will likely be changed to keep things challenging, Archie said.
“I’m excited, I’m not nervous yet. I’m interested to see how the problem will change, and how that will change some of our case theories and some of the arguments we put forth,” he said.
Archie is most looking forward to sharing the experience with his three teammates.
“I’m excited to see them grow into advocates and practice their litigation skills,” he said.
He also is eager to come together with and meet Black law students from across the country.
“It is really nice to go to a space where it is predominantly Black law students and legal professionals,” he said. “It’s interesting and reassuring and reaffirms that I have made the right decision to go to law school.”
Archie said one of the biggest challenges of traveling to mock trial competitions is cost. If you would like to help support students in their travel expenses, visit Seattle U Law’s student organization donation page. While the School of Law is providing institutional support for the travel expenses of the BLSA Mock Trial team to attend the national conference, this particular fundraiser is geared toward offsetting conference registration costs and supporting the attendance of additional BLSA members beyond the Mock Trial team at the national conference.