Shellee Daniel ’21 and Alicia Johnson ’20 didn’t know which way the judges were going to rule.
The pair had already won the Donna Jo Morse Client Counseling Moot Court Competition in late October 2019. Fast-forward to the Gabrielli Appellate Advocacy Moot Court Competition in mid-November: Daniel and Johnson sitting, hand-in-hand, in the Dean Alexander Moot Courtroom. They were confident in their arguments, but weren’t sure if they had secured the victory.
And history was on the line. No team had ever swept both of Albany Law School’s fall-semester moot court competitions.
The announcement came— they won! “We were completely in shock,” Johnson said. “Looking back at it reminds me how special it actually was. It didn’t register until the audience started cheering.”
The back-to-back victories were almost a year in the making.
Daniel and Johnson—both 2Ls at the time of their victories—started working together in 2018 while studying for first-semester finals. Johnson had experience with constitutional law debates during her high school days. Daniel became interested in moot court competitions after volunteering to help with the 2018 Senior Prize Trials. They decided to become a team after that year’s Gabrielli competition.
“We became used to each other’s work ethics early on,” Daniel said. “That familiarity translated well when it came time to work on the competitions because we were cognizant of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We are also very good with encouraging each other when we feel overwhelmed, and we do a good job at balancing each other out.”
Originally, they planned on participating in only the Gabrielli competition and not the Morse. “We wanted to do only Gabrielli because it was a 2L- specific competition, but we were persuaded by the lovely [competition chair] Meghna Srikanth ’21 to do client counseling,” Daniel explained. “Wow, she was right!”
Johnson, who plans to graduate in December, and Daniel are considering competing in the Karen C. McGovern Senior Prize Trials next spring.
They are also trying to create a Black Law Students Association travel team to compete in Northeast BLSA regional competitions. Both Daniel, president of Albany Law’s BLSA chapter, and Johnson are hoping to be student-coaches for the team.