Evan Donaldson ’24 and Mary-Preston Austin ‘23 to compete in National Trial Competition finals

VLS Mock Trial Traveling Team members Evan Donaldson, Class of 2024, and Mary-Preston Austin, Class of 2023, will compete in the National Trial Competition in San Antonio, Texas in March.

Evan Donaldson and Mary-Preston Austin

Austin and Donaldson were top performers at the Region 8 Competition, held at the University of Memphis Law School February 3 to 5, to qualify for the final round. They competed against teams from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law, Faulkner University and University of Louisville, and defeated a team from Belmont University to advance to the national competition.

The National Trial Competition is co-sponsored by the American College of Trial Lawyers and the Texas Young Lawyers Association, which administers the competition and hosts the final round. The competition attracts teams from more than 140 law schools nationwide each year and involves more than 1,000 students. NTC winners, finalists and semifinalists receive cash prizes.

“Evan and Mary-Preston were the epitome of poise and professionalism, and each earned a perfect cross examination score in the final round,” said Annie Berry Anselman, adjunct professor of law, who coaches the team and teaches Trial Advocacy at Vanderbilt. Anselman is an attorney with the Nashville Public Defenders.

Maddie Kincaid and Ben Geller, Class of 2023 and Zo Malakpa, Class of 2024, received high marks for opening statements and closing arguments in their preliminary rounds, competing against teams from the University of Memphis and the University of Alabama. “Watching them navigate odd evidentiary rulings and interesting case theories would make any of their professors swell with pride,” Berry said.

The 2023 VLS Mock Trial Team at the Region 8 competition in Memphis

Team members Vincent Dodge, Paige Maho and Jason Teets, Class of 2025, supported the Region 8 Mock Trial competition by serving as witnesses for other competitors.