More than 200 lawyers and professionals from Silicon Valley, as well as students and supporters of SVUDL, came together April 30, 2018, to see six of SVUDL’s rising stars demonstrate their debate skills at our 3rd Annual Moot Court Competition, hosted by Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
In opening its doors to the community for this event for the third time, Hewlett Packard Enterprise provided a platform for SVUDL students to demonstrate their advocacy and leadership skills.
In his opening and closing remarks, Willie Hernandez, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Chair of SVUDL’s Legal Advisory Committee, commended the young debaters for their courage in standing before such a large audience and taking on such complex cases.
The event spotlights SVUDL’s work teaching critical thinking and communication to students from under-resourced high schools. It also engages members of the legal community in our joint effort to diversify the legal career pipeline through mentoring and networking.
Guest speaker Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo praised the role of debate in teaching young people to understand and appreciate our constitution and legal system.
“These are not easy times for our democracy,” she said. “We are a nation of laws, and our constitution is the soul of our country …. What could be more important than falling in love with the laws of our country?”
Guest speaker Tammy Albarran, Deputy General Counsel of Uber Technologies Inc., told the crowd how meaningful it was to have mentors who cared enough to encourage her along her academic and professional path as a first-generation Mexican-American law student.
During the competition, students argued a case taken directly from today’s headlines: whether partisan gerrymandering is constitutional. It was based on two current cases in Wisconsin and Maryland.
Debaters Najma Ali, Angel Armenta, Marybelle Uk and Israel Alvarez (alternate) made up our San Jose team, representing Mt. Pleasant, Oak Grove and Silver Creek High Schools. Mia Cadet, James Mitchell, Santiago Pacheco and Antonia Barona (alternate) comprised our Peninsula team, representing East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy, Menlo-Atherton and Woodside High Schools.
Presiding over the competition were three guest judges: the Honorable Judge John Owens and Judge Michelle Friedland, both of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and the Honorable Judge Ed Davila of the United States District Court, Northern District of California.
The judges commended the students for their analytical thinking, and for being poised and articulate during tough questioning.
“It is inspiring to watch you argue cases that go to the Supreme Court,” said Friedland. “These are the hardest cases and you did an excellent job discussing them, so if you can do that, you can do anything!”
Special thanks to the many people who worked tirelessly to make the 3rd Annual Moot Court Competition happen, from guest speakers and judges to SVUDL board members and our Legal Advisory Committee. Additional thanks to Hewlett Packard Enterprise for their continued support of the event, and to our many legal pipeline partners, including Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Ropes & Gray, and Ventura Rossi.