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In ‘The Year of the Black Woman,’ Tulane Law women take BLSA moot court championship

May 01, 2023 11:15 AM
Alina Hernandez ahernandez4@tulane.edu

(L-R) Roi Wallace and Brianna Thurman are national BLSA Thurgood Marshall Moot Court Competition champions, taking the national title for Tulane Law for the second time in a row.


For the second consecutive year, Tulane’s Black Law Student Association won the National Thurgood Marshall Moot Court Competition, the most prestigious national competition for Black law students.

In the three years that the BLSA program has been part of the Tulane Moot Court Program, its teams have won the national championship two of those years, back to back. 

With the 2023 national competition themed “The Year of the Black Woman”, Tulane's team of Brianna Thurman and Roi Wallace, both 2Ls, took home the top prize. Thurman and Wallace both won best petitioner brief and won 1st place in the regional championship round.

The two are quick to give credit, too, to their experienced coaches – last year’s national champs, Reagan Roy and Trey Roby, both 3Ls, who swept all categories, including best team, best brief and best oralist for Roby.

“It is really rewarding to see that all of those hours of practice really did pay off,” said Wallace, “And we are incredibly fortunate that Tulane gave us the space to do this as students, something that enabled us to grow as competitors.”

The team in D.C.

Wallace and Thurman traveled to Washington, D.C. for the competition and bested teams from Texas A&M, Columbia, Northeastern, and Oklahoma law schools for the top spot. For their final round, the two argued in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia before federal Judges Ana Reyes and Reggie Walton.

“It was incredible to get feedback from these judges,” said Thurman. “The judges were impressed by how we put together our arguments. For me, they mentioned that I had a strong presence and charm, and that really helped me deliver my best argument effectively. This experience has been incredible, not only because we won, but because the hard work we put in at each step of the process molded me into a more effective and zealous advocate and teammate, showing me that I can perform well at all times with the proper amount of preparation and dedication."

The journey for Tulane to repeat as national champs began five months ago. Tulane’s BLSA Appellate coaches put together two teams that included 2Ls Sheldon “DJ” Johnson and Lakshmi “Lex” Kumar, who took the best respondent brief at the regional competition. As a team, all the students worked together to prepare for regionals, crafting their oral arguments and fine-tuning their presentation for competition. At the regional, it looked like the teams were both heading for the final round – and would likely compete against each other. In the end, Wallace and Thurman won the regional title.

“That was hard to think that we would be competing against our teammates,” said Wallace. 

The Appellate Team: Coach Trey Roby, DJ Johnson, Lex Kumar, 
Roi Wallace, Brianna Thurman and Coach Reagan Roy.

At the three-day national competition, Wallace and Thurman competed and continued to shine making it to the final round, where they found themselves on the steps of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. They expertly navigated questions of constitutionality and policy from the two judges and showed creativity in addressing issues surrounding the 14th Amendment and Title VI. Both competitors received a standing ovation at the awards gala once it was clear that Tulane Law accomplished the unthinkable – back-to-back national championship.

Wallace and Thurman’s success is not just attributable to their teammates who supported them, or their champion coaches. They also had the support of alumni and recent graduates Karli Wells (L'21), Michelle Domingue (L'22), and Lucy Dieckhaus (L’21), all who helped the team moot their cases.

 “Winning nationals for the second year in a row demonstrates how success follows when everyone involved is dedicated to creating a community and cultivating a program rooted in support and intentionality,” said Thurman.

As for what’s next, Thurman has her sights on immigration, environmental or entertainment law. This summer she will be working at Catholic Charities in their Unaccompanied Minor Program. Wallace is looking at her third year of law school and focusing on sports and entertainment law, business litigation and maybe more appellate work. This summer, she will be working at Fennemore Craig in San Bernardino, California