Moot Court team wins NYU National Immigration Law Competition


Michigan State University College of Law students (left to right) Victoria Espinoza, Bamdad Attaran and Polina Hristova took first place in oral arguments at the National Immigration Law Competition held at New York University.
– Photo by © Hollenshead: Courtesy of NYU Photo Bureau

By Savannah Swix

Polina Hristova, Victoria Espinoza, and Bamdad Attaran represented Michigan State University College of Law at NYU School of Law's 15th Annual National Immigration Law Competition from January 31 to February 2. Out of 26 teams, Hristova, Espinoza, and Attaran brought home the weekend's top prizes, receiving the award for best brief and first place in oral arguments.

"From the beginning, we all said this was kind of the 'dream team' because we're all heavily involved in immigration law," said Espinoza, who served as the primary brief writer for the team. Hristova and Attaran were oralists.

All three of the students have gained firsthand experience serving clients in immigration cases as student clinicians for the Immigration Law Clinic at MSU Law, and they've been taught on the subject by Prof. David Thronson a top immigration law scholar whose research focuses on its impact on families and children.

This was the third moot court competition for Hristova, Espinoza's second, and Attaran's first. For each of them, the competition presented unique challenges, but they leaned on one another throughout.

While the double win is a major accomplishment for the team as a whole, the students claimed their own personal victories from the moment.

"I'm a first-generation immigrant so winning an immigration competition came full circle for me," Attaran said. "I'm an immigrant arguing in front of three U.S. federal circuit court judges, which is a big deal. Most attorneys don't get that opportunity. It was a nice reward."

Hristova, also a first-generation immigrant, has targeted her legal education toward her goal of working with immigration law. She said the experience only further validated her ambition.

"For me, it was really cool because when my family came to the United States, we landed in New York City," she said. "Being able to argue in an immigration competition in New York City and win and know that I want to practice immigration law was really meaningful to me to know that I can do it."

The team was coached and supported by Juan Caballero, who worked with MSU Law's Immigration Law Clinic, and Professors Philip Pucillo, David Thronson, and Jennifer Copland.

Published: Wed, Feb 19, 2020