February 7, 2024
Three women in courtroom smiling and posing with trophies
Elizabeth Weinman '24, Livie Ruhl '24, and Melanie Zelikovski '24

The Rutgers Law National Trial Team’s current season has become a season of championships. The National team won their third Championship title in a year this past weekend at the Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) National Trial Competition Regional in Philadelphia. Rutgers Law third-year students and team competitors Livie Ruhl, Elizabeth Weinman, and Melanie Zelikovsky earned the Championship title at the Criminal Courthouse in Center City and will compete in the TYLA National Competition in April. Livie also won the award for Best Advocate in the Competition. 

“The team performed extraordinarily in a highly competitive field,” noted Associate Dean Andrew L. Rossner. “We all should be proud of their achievement; they represented Rutgers Law superbly. They are extraordinary advocates.” The team bested some of the most competitive teams in the country, including Temple Law [ranked #2], Drexel Law [ranked #15], University of Pennsylvania Law, University of Pittsburgh Law, Seton Hall Law, Penn State Dickinson Law, Widener Law, and Duquesne Law.   

At the Competition, the National Team conducted full trials of a burglary prosecution, trying the case from both sides in successive rounds. They defeated Temple and Dickenson in two of their preliminary rounds, losing in a split decision to Villanova in the third preliminary round. Based on their success in the preliminary round, they advanced to the semi-final round, defeating Villanova in that round to advance to the finals. The Team defeated University of Pennsylvania Law in the final round to earn the Championship title and a place in the National Competition.  

The TYLA National Trial Competition is an institution in law school trial advocacy, established in 1970.  More than 140 schools compete in 15 regions and the top two teams in each region advance to the National Competition.   

This win is the third Championship title earned by the National Trial Team in the past year, having taken the Championship Title in the invitational Puerto Rico Trial Advocacy Competition in the Fall. Third-year Rutgers Law student Paula Echeverria along with Livie, Elizabeth, and Melanie competed. Elizabeth also won Best Advocate Award. The same four team members won the Championship Title in the invitational Queens District Attorney Trial Competition last spring, with Melanie winning the Best Cross-Examination Award. 

The National Trial Team also placed as semi-finalists in the invitational Peter James Johnson National Civil Rights Trial Competition in the Fall, with Rutgers Law second-year students Makayla Laster, Parker Lewin, Christina Little, and Brianna Rojas competing.

The team is coached by Dean Rossner and former National Trial Team members Jared Hotchkiss '21 and George Morton '22. Gerald Baker, Esq. and Judge Alvin Weiss (retired) provide generous support for the team and trial advocacy at the law school.

The National Trial Team continues to raise Rutgers Law's profile for trial advocacy training, emerging as a significant national competitor.    

Rutgers Law Media Contact:
Shanida Carter

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