That’s how I felt after today’s (9:00am) 2L Opening Statement Competition for the Trial Advocacy Board. This annual event is similar to the competition the T.A.B. used for determining who made the 1L Trial Team, and is held in tandem with the 3L Closing Argument Competition for figuring out which lucky folks get to represent NCCU Law for the law school’s official TYLA and AAJ teams.
The facts for the 2L competition were total garbage. It was an old TYLA civil case, as opposed to the criminal cases usually done in the past. It had a dead judge (the victim), his money-grubbing whore of a wife (the Plaintiff / my client ), an equally money-grubbing incompetent of a doctor (the Defendant), the list goes on.
Oh, and my client’s claim? She’s suing for wrongful death, since her husband died from taking nitrates and Viagra at the same time because the doctor spent a whopping 6 minutes with him when he sought medical help (just enough time to diagnose the judge… with a cold).
The Defendant’s defense? My client’s lawyer-boyfriend killed the judge by beating him over the head with a trophy Or in the alternative that the judge was contributorily negligent for taking nitrates and Viagra simultaneously.
Needless to say I’m not happy with a case I’m not convinced I could win if it were a real trial.
Then on top of it I let myself get sidetracked with other stuff (CLE, Constitution Day, poker night, etc) so I don’t actually write the opening until around 2am this morning.1 After we got the facts over a week ago.
Stupid of me, I know.
But I get it done and think it’s pretty good, so I’m happy-ish. Then I grab a reasonable amount of sleep under the circumstances and even eat a full breakfast before the competition, so all is right with the world.
Until I actually get to school
I’m the last competitor to go, and the 1.5ish hours spent waiting is just enough time for my nerves to go into full-blown panic mode. My hands are freezing. I’m sweating profusely.2 And I have a splitting headache.
Compounding the anxiety: the best of the best 2Ls are in this competition. There are my friends Top Gun3 and Luca,4 who both edged me out in the 1L Closing competition.5 There’s Co-Counsel, among the 4 people who beat me in the 1L opening competition. Most of the 1L trial team is here. Even Madame Prosecutor is making her first T.A.B. competition debut, as well as my friend EIC.
I pace the halls for about 20 minutes and manage to relax a bit, and when it’s actually my turn things go fairly well…
…until about 3 minutes in, when I completely forget one of those key bullet points I was supposed to bring up…
…and since it’s not vital to the opening, no one notices it was missing…
The problem? About a minute later, one of the bullet points (that I remember) makes sense only if mentioned in reference to that earlier bullet point (that I forgot). So my eyes bulge out of my head around the 4-minute mark as it dawns on me that I forgot, and I completely screw up the flow of the ending to wedge it in, at which point I start talking a-mile-a-minute because I just know I’m going to end up losing points for running over the 5-minute time limit…
I talk so fast, in fact, that I finish right around 4:20. With a whole 40 seconds left on the clock
It was rough.
And I still have a headache.
After last year’s two performances, I was looking for some vindication this time around. We have to wait all the way until the end of March to find out where we finish so it’ll be awhile until I know if I got it, but at this point I’m just glad it’s over I’ll post the video for y’all as soon as we’re allowed to see them
Until then have a great night!
- “Write” is a bit of a misnomer. I write the first sentence and the last sentence (ideally something pithy for both), then just jot down key bullet points that I can talk about extemporaneously on trial day. Remember that, because it’s an important point in a couple paragraphs… [↩]
- While in a suit [↩]
- First in our 1L class [↩]
- “The only man Vito Corleone feared. And vice versa.” [↩]
- Interesting side note: all 3 of the finalists for the 1L Mary Wright Closing Argument competition are alumni of N.C. State University, with our respective majors in chemistry, philosophy, and computer science. At least we all got our money’s worth [↩]