SWLAW Blog | Awards & Honors

Moot Court Team Albany headshots in business professional dress in a collage. Top row: Nancy Santiago, Dean Matsuyama, and Stevie Thackeray. Bottom row: Vianney Munoz, Julia Unger, and Monica Boston.

April 11, 2022

Moot Court Teams Exhibit Talent and Drive at National Competition

Competition season is in full swing for Southwestern's Moot Court Honors Program! This year Southwestern had the pleasure of sending two Moot Court teams to compete in the 34th Annual Domenick L. Gabrielli National Family Law Moot Court Competition held on March 4th and 5th, 2022. Please join us in congratulating Moot-ers Nancy Santiago, Stevie Thackeray, Dean Matsuyama, Vianney Muñoz, Julia Unger, and Monica Boston on finishing the competition as Octa-Finalists!

The first team consisted of Oralists Nancy Santiago and Stevie Thackeray and Swing Writer Dean Matsuyama. 

Zoom screenshot of Team Albany 1. Top row shows Nancy Santiago and Stevie Thackeray, and bottom row shows Dean Matsuyama
Top L to R: Nancy Santiago and Stevie Thackeray. Bottom row: Dean Matsuyama

The second team consisted of Oralists Vianney Muñoz and Julia Unger and Swing Writer  Monica Boston.  

Zoom screenshot of Team Albany 2. Top row shows Julia Unger and Vianney Munoz, and bottom row shows Monica Boston
Top L to R: Julia Unger and Vianney Munoz. Bottom row: Monica Boston

This unique competition stood out immediately, given its emotionally sensitive problem. The two issues centered around (1) resuscitation of Appellant's infant born at 22 weeks gestation and (2) obtaining informed consent before providing experimental treatments on Appellant's infant. 
The first team wrote a beautiful Appellant brief receiving praise from all practice round judges. During the competition, all oralists demonstrated fierce advocacy, black-letter law knowledge, record, and medical  savviness. Most importantly, they stood their ground even when faced with emotionally driven questions.

The second team also wrote a compelling Respondent brief that set the tone for the Respondent's side. During the competition, all oralists demonstrated heightened advocacy and mastery of the law and record. They argued passionately to convince judges of the less sympathetic hospital side —  a task that ultimately proved difficult to accomplish. 

Hear what both teams had to say about their experience at the competition:

Nancy Santiago, Team One Oralist

Studio headshot of Nancy Santiago with an off-white background"To end my moot career as an octa-finalist with this amazing team ranks as one of my all-time favorite law school experiences. I am so proud of how far we came as a team and as individuals. Of course, none of this could be possible without our coach Professor D'Italia. She continuously pushed us to become stronger advocates, and I sincerely can't thank her enough for this. Without a doubt, she is one of the best at what she does.

Additionally, thank you to all the faculty and alumni that helped us prepare. The caliber of questions and feedback was another big reason we found success at Albany. I whole-heartedly believe Moot Court teaches us to become better advocates and I am prepared to carry this level of heightened advocacy into practice." 


Stevie Thackeray, Team One OralistStevie Thackeray headshot with a wisteria covered pergola in the background

"Competing in the Albany Law School Moot Court Competition was the best way to culminate months of hard work. I am so grateful for my incredible team's opportunity to represent Southwestern." 





Dean Matsuyama, Team One Swing Writer

Dean Matsuyama headshot with a quaint row of shops in the background"As a returning Fellow, competing this year presented another opportunity to grow and develop —even more so as a swing competitor, which not only required responsibility for the final written brief but arguing an oral round in competition, which I did not do last year. This year was particularly challenging as we went head-on to defend parents' rights to make medical decisions for their extremely premature newborn under questionable emergency circumstances. Opposing, was a hospital that believed it had the right to act without a court order, which we then had to defend during argument when we switched sides.

Although we did not go as far as we would have liked, we faced the top teams in every round, placing as octa-finalists. I could not be more proud of our team. I am grateful for the opportunity to further develop as an advocate, to learn from our amazing Coach, and to represent Southwestern in a national competition. Despite the rigors of competing, I would do it all over again with you three. Stevie, Nancy, and Professor D'Italia — thank you so much. And thank you to everyone who helped us prepare. Without you, we would not have pushed on as far — both in competition and our individual growth. Go, Moot."


Vianney Muñoz , Team Two Oralist

Vianney Muñoz headshot with dark green fauna in the background"My competition experience was unique because I had a swing writer sharing my issue with me. Seeing my teammates go before me made me so proud of all the work we put in and gave me a chance to feel more empowered when my turn came around. It was a hard issue to argue, but it was honestly so fun to discuss it with the judges and my last round made me such a better advocate for my future clients. 10/10 recommend!" 

We could not be prouder of both teams placing as Octa-Finalists! They elevated the level of competition, and their talent, drive, and relentlessness shined throughout the competition. Congratulations once again to both teams on their accomplishments! Thank you to the entire Moot Court Honors Program, their coaches, and their faculty directors for helping this team prepare. 


Julia Unger, Team Two OralistStudio headshot of Julia Unger with a blueish-white background

"This competition challenged us to be better advocates and see situations from multiple perspectives. I am truly grateful to have had an amazing coach and team made up of fierce and resilient advocates. We truly did out best and put up a great fight." 




Monica Boston, Team Two Swing Writer

Monica Boston headshot with an Art Deco terra cotta wall as a background"Competing at the Albany moot court competition was an experience like no other. From the moment we started working on the brief until the day of competition was an incredible experience. I could not have asked for better editors, oralists, teammates, and more importantly, friends. This competition really made us grow as fierce advocates and human beings. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to have been able to compete in this competition."





We are so proud of both teams for placing as Octa-Finalists! They elevated the level of competition, and their talent, drive, and relentlessness shined throughout the competition. Congratulations once again to both teams on their accomplishments! Thank you to the entire Moot Court Honors Program, their coaches, and their faculty directors for helping this team prepare.