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Annual Lugar Cup Trial Competition Brings a Newfound Confidence in Students

The West Virginia University College of Law Lugar Trial Association held its annual Lugar Cup in-house trial competition in November. 

Annual Lugar Cup Trial Competition Winners

Pictured left to right: Lucas Tanner, Alexa Doria,  Judge Tera L. Salango, Clarence Moore, Logan Wotring and Charlotte Murphy

Named after former Dean Marlyn E. Lugar, this competition helps students develop their trial advocacy skills and is organized by the Lugar Trial Association. The competition is open to all 2L and 3L students at the College of Law, and 20 students competed this year. The competition was judged by local West Virginia attorneys and judges, including Circuit Judge Tera L. Salango, an alum of WVU Law.

This year’s winners – whose names will be engraved on the esteemed Lugar Cup – are 3L students Alexa Doria (from Troy, Michigan) and Lucas Tanner (from Rosedale, West Virginia). Doria and Tanner also won the Lugar 1L Competition their first year of law school.

“Competing in a trial competition like this takes immense preparation, planning, and dedication,” said Doria. “My partner and I worked very hard in order to feel confident with the case heading into the trials.

“Winning the Lugar Cup this year was nothing short of an honor. I am passionate about trial work and advocacy so having the opportunity to conduct a full trial in front of esteemed attorneys and judges from West Virginia and implement the skills I have learned throughout law school was a fantastic experience for which I will be forever appreciative.”

Tanner said the competition directly mimics the structure of a real trial.

“Going into this year’s competition, I felt much more confident than ever before,” said Tanner. “Over the past three years I have been blessed with a significant amount of experience. I have been personally involved in four real trials, being an advocate in three, and first chair in one. I believe one of the largest hurdles for anyone, especially a law student, is confidence in our competence. Going into this competition, after everything I have personally experienced, and what I know Alexa has experienced, I was completely confident in our competence. I knew our skill level and while I was nervous about the outcomes, I had no doubts in our abilities.”

Law students Lucas Tanner and Alexa Doria

Pictured left to right: Lucas Tanner and Alexa Doria

Being named the runner up is also an achievement to be proud of.

“I love mock trials, so I felt confident and excited going into this year’s competition,” said runner up Clarence Moore, a 3L from Moreno Valley, California. “Although we came in second place, it felt great. This was our second year in a row coming in second place, so it’s obvious that we are doing something right.

“I am grateful for this years’ experience because it reinforced a principle that I live by, ‘proper preparation prevents poor performance,’” he said. “No matter how good you are on your feet advocating, you must know the facts of the case like the back of your hand, because natural abilities can only do so much.”

Moore said that he is already looking forward to mentoring 1L students who will compete in their 1L trial competition this spring semester.

Moore’s teammate, Logan Wotring, a 3L and Morgantown native, said he was grateful for the hands-on experience in this competition.

“Everyone has a role to play,” he said. “There’s a real judge there and a real bailiff, and we do court procedures and we follow the rules of evidence. We also argue evidentiary objections, as well as state our opening statements, perform cross and direct examinations, and we prep our witnesses.

“The professors here at WVU Law and the Lugar Cup competition have definitely helped in making me the type of person I am, which is someone who can go into a courtroom and fight for their client.”

Charlotte Murphy, a 3L from Raleigh, North Carolina, was this year’s Lugar Cup Chair, and worked with Lugar Trial Association Advisors Amy Cyphert and Melissa Giggenbach to help organize and run the competition. Murphy’s duties included selecting the competition packet, scheduling the rounds, and finding judges. “I really enjoyed getting to interact with the judges, many of whom were Lugar alums, as well as getting to meet so many of my classmates’ families,” she said.

Professor Giggenbach noted that the Lugar Cup gives students a chance to put the skills they learn in the classroom into use.

“Our students need and desire trial practice, and this is a fun way for them to get that practice in a competitive environment” said Giggenbach. “I have been a trial coach for the past two years, and I judged before, but this was my first time serving as an advisor. It was gratifying to  witness the culmination of all of the teams hard work.”

To learn more about the Lugar Trial Association and for ways to get involved, please email Amy Cyphert.

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