By Sarah Vistocco ’13
It was a standing-room-only crowd inside Siena College’s newest academic arena as alumni Jay Girvin ’78, Esq. and Sal Ferlazzo ’77, Esq. cut the ribbon to officially open the flexible learning space that bears their name.
The Girvin & Ferlazzo Moot Courtroom, located in Siena Hall, will serve as both classroom and courtroom. It will allow students to learn about the legal profession and give members of the Honorable James P. King Moot Court/Mock Trial Team a place to train, practice and scrimmage in preparation for their American Mock Trial Association competitions.
Pre-Law Advisor and Political Science Department Chair Professor Len Cutler, Ph.D. works closely with the team and said that the College community will benefit from having direct access to the courtroom and the mock trial process. “No pun intended, but it will raise the bar considerably,” Cutler said. “We are truly grateful to Jay Girvin and Sal Ferlazzo for their commitment to the project, as well as for the support of the members of their firm.”
Ferlazzo said that the idea for the courtroom developed from a desire to engage students interested in the legal profession. One third of the lawyers employed by Girvin & Ferlazzo, P.C. are Siena alumni. Ferlazzo said, “We’re hoping that this will inspire a new generation of Girvins and Ferlazzos.”
Girvin added that his and Ferlazzo’s time at Siena helped them become lawyers who value hard work and integrity, a tradition they want to sustain. “We hope that current and future Siena students will gain hands-on experiences and learn from talented professors who will prepare them to become skilled, client-centered attorneys,” Girvin said.
Siena College President Fr. Kevin Mullen ’75, O.F.M., Ph.D. praised Girvin’s and Ferlazzo’s dedication as alumni. “They recognize the great gift they received here and they have given back in a manner that is at the core of our academic mission,” said Mullen.
During the regional Mock Trial competition at Boston College from February 22-24, Siena’s moot court team led by co-captains Christine Armstrong ’13 and Mara Afzali ’14, earned a bid to this month’s national competition in Easton, Pa. In a field of 26 schools, including Brown University, New York University and Princeton University, Siena College’s team tied for seventh place. Team members also won four individual awards, which is more than any other group in the tournament.
The new moot courtroom will allow the team to become even better prepared for future contests.
“If you can practice here in front of all of the different judges and attorneys that come in, you’re ready for competition,” said Afzali.
Armstrong concurred, adding that a courtroom can often be unnerving to newcomers. “There’s no way to simulate the feeling you get from being in a courtroom; you have to be in a courtroom,” Armstrong said.
The Girvin & Ferlazzo Moot Courtroom ribbon-cutting ceremony took place during the ninth annual Capital Region Lawyers’ Reception to support Siena College’s Jurist-in-Residence program. The event is underwritten each year by Girvin & Ferlazzo, allowing the proceeds to be added to the program’s endowment, which now exceeds $186,000.
Retired Supreme Court Justice of New York, the Honorable Patrick Monserrate, serves as Siena’s Distinguished Jurist-in-Residence. Monserrate had a 30-year career of dedicated public service.