Mock Trial and Litigation Skills Programs Receive New Endowed Fund

Mock Trial and Litigation Skills Programs Receive New Endowed Fund

Yvette Ostolaza, A.B. ’86, J.D. ’92
Yvette Ostolaza, A.B. ’86, J.D. ’92

Aristotle once said, “For the things we must learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” It is a concept central to mock trials in any law school environment, especially at the University of Miami, which prides itself on preparing students to begin making immediate impacts in the field upon graduation. To date, the Miami Law Mock Trial Team has consistently competed at a high level, finishing as finalists against strong opposing teams.

The program hopes to continue to place high in tournaments and earn the top award on a regular basis. That is why it is so exciting that Yvette Ostolaza, A.B. ’86, J.D. ’92, Sidley Austin LLP’s management committee chair, has generously established The Yvette Ostolaza Mock Trial Endowment in support of mock trial and litigation skills for Miami Law students.

Ostolaza was a member of the mock trial and moot court while attending the university and was a member of winning and successful teams.

“That experience,” she says, “along with the litigation skills clinic prepared me so well for a career in trial work that I felt confident in pursuing a career in litigation and have been enjoying it for the past 30 years.”

While she admits it was challenging, she recalls having dedicated educators to guide the team. “Professors [John T.] Gaubatz and [M. Minnette] Massey were wonderful professors who did an excellent job of teaching us the fundamentals of critical thinking in their specific areas of expertise,” she shares. “Professor [Terence] Anderson was also an impressive mock trial coach. At this point in my career, I’m grateful to be in a position to establish an endowed fund for the mock trial program that I benefitted from so much when I attended the University.”

The endowment, which will be used to fund costs associated with mock trial competitions, including out-of-state travel, case materials, entry fees, and more, will be commemorated with a plaque to be installed at the Law School. The trial team will also be named in honor of Ostolaza.

“The mock trial team has always done quite well thanks to the professors and volunteers in the Miami community who prepare students for the courtroom experience,” Ostolaza continues. “I hope that the endowment in support of the mock trial team enables the University to enter additional competitions in the future.”

During her years with Miami Law, Ostolaza also had the distinction of being a member of the University of Miami Law Review. She recalls with pride being able to publish a case note on AIDS discrimination when the existing law had yet to evolve. The article and her note are still cited today in many cases. She was also a founding member of the University of Miami Business Law Review along with James Gassenheimer, J.D. ’92.

However, all these achievements, like currently serving on the Dean’s Advisory Council, were only possible for Ostolaza with the support of Miami Law’s generous alumni donors.

“I was fortunate to receive an academic merit scholarship while attending the School of Law. If I had not, it would have been difficult to attend UM,” she recalls. “At the time, there were other universities offering me scholarships, and ultimately, the opportunity to have both a scholarship and the option to stay with such a strong academic program so close to home was an ideal scenario.”

“To compete as a law school, it is important that Miami Law receives endowments that can support special programs. With rising costs and inflation, it is especially crucial for alumni to make sure that they are giving back to the school so that other students can benefit from the same programs that existed when we ourselves attended. This will make sure we attract and retain top students.” 

Ostolaza also appreciates the thriving Miami legal community that allowed her to participate in rewarding internship programs she credits with further preparing her for her 30-year career in private practice.

The Yvette Ostolaza Mock Trial Endowment is another example of alumni involvement helping to pave the way for the University of Miami’s ongoing legacy as a leader in all fields of academic excellence. For Ostolaza, the donation is vital to the Law School continuing to rise in stature and recognition.

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