NYLS Places Third in National Family Law Moot Court Competition

three female students wearing black suits

Left to right: Caroline McGuire 2L, Gabriella Castellano 2L, and Elizabeth Harvell 2L.

NYLS took third place in the 31st Annual Domenick L. Gabrielli National Family Law Moot Court Competition hosted by Albany Law School from February 28 to March 2, 2019. NYLS’s powerhouse team of Elizabeth Harvell 2L and Caroline McGuire 2L was coached by Gabriella Castellano 2L.

The Gabrielli National Family Moot Court Competition focuses on current issues in the field of family law which lend themselves to challenging oral arguments and competition. This year’s problem was centered around whether the parents of a 14-year-old transgender child were medically negligent for refusing to provide the child with puberty-blocking treatments. The case also concerned the parents’ rights to block the child from visiting her grandparents, who were supportive of her gender identity.

“The problem is so interesting because it deals with an evolving area of the law,” Harvell said.

In addition to the team’s overall third-place win, McGuire was awarded Best Oralist.

“We’re a great team because we balance each other out,” Harvell said. “I’m a bit more relaxed, but Caroline has a propensity to be a little nervous in a competition setting. She has every reason to be confident—winning Best Oralist proves it.”

The team members credit their success to the leadership of NYLS Moot Court Faculty Advisor Ann Schofield Baker and the mentorship of NYLS Professors Susan Abraham and Richard Chused and alumni Shlomit Aroubas ’07 and John F. Ryan ’83, all of whom mooted the team throughout their preparation and provided constructive criticism.

“We worked eight to 10 hours a week for the past two months, so to see all that hard work pay off feels really great,” said McGuire. “It took a lot of molding, but with regular feedback we were able to refine our arguments and really impress the judges.”

This summer, while McGuire will intern with New York City Law Department’s Special Federal Litigation Division, Harvell will intern for a nearby matrimonial family law firm, applying the practical experience she’s gained.

“After the first round of the competition, every single bench included three family law judges from Albany and all over the region,” said Harvell. “It really helped me build confidence about appearing in front of family law judges, which is what I want to do for a living.”

“I am so impressed by this dedicated team of 2Ls who worked tirelessly to improve their oral argument skills, said Professor Baker. “I expect to see great things from them in the years to come!”