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Trial Advocacy Executive Board and Members

Executive Board 2015-2016

Brooke Michiels - President
Alexis Clay - Vice President
Zach Grate - Chief of Staff
Teri Black - Treasurer
Thierry Marceaux - Alumni/PR Chair
Ellen Baggett - Secretary
Melanie Cleveland - National Coach


Cody Acosta
Bernice Aguas
Alfred Ashu
Nicholas Bergeron
Tessa Bitterman
Taylor Bologna
Sara Burroughs
Brittany Caronia
Reece D'Silva
​Olga Fafanova
Megan Finger

Stephen Forston
Jason Galjour
Alden Howard
Sarah Hunter
Peter Kordas
​Melissa Mabry
Brittany Odom
Bobby Pardo
Tyrell Parrish
Urvi Patel

Jami Pellerin
Alexis Reaney
Victoria Roberts
Josh Rodriguez
Alexandra Roselli
​Rick Schwerdtfeger
Christine Scott
Robert Seghers​
Josh Stein
Nina Turk


Executive Board Biographies

Brooke Michiels, President

Brooke E. Michiels holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. While there, Brooke was an active participant in the ULM Mock Trial Team and Vice president of the Pre-Law Association. Prior to her arrival at law school, she worked as an intern for Criminal Defense Attorney Bob Noel and as a legal assistant for Creed and Creed Law Firm, a personal injury firm. 

At Loyola Law School, Brooke’s particular interest is in Maritime law. She is also interested in Personal Injury law and Criminal law. Brooke interned at the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s office in the summer of 2014, working primarily with the MAG unit. During the 2014 summer, she also worked as a research assistant at Frischhertz, Poulliard, Frischhertz, Impastato, LLC. During the summer of 2015, she had the honor of working at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana under Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon.

Brooke has been an extremely involved student in the extracurricular activities offered at Loyola Law. She is the Comment Editor of the Loyola Maritime Law Journal and also a writer for the Loyola Current maritime blog. She is the President of the Trial Advocacy Program. She was also a member of the Trial Advocacy National Team that won first place at the Louisiana State Bar Association competition in spring of 2015.  She served as the secretary of the Honor Board her second year of law school, and is currently serving as the Co-Chair of the Honor Board. She is also a student practitioner for the Loyola Law Workplace Justice Clinic.


Alexis Cray, Vice President

Alexis L. Clay is a third-year law student at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and currently serves as the vice-president of the Trial Advocacy Program. In 2015, she competed on one of the program’s national teams in the Texas Young Lawyers Association’s National Trial Competition where her team was the only Louisiana team to advance to the quarterfinals of the competition.

In addition to her involvement in the Trial Advocacy Program, Ms. Clay has served as the president of the Criminal Law Society, president of the Public Interest Law Group, and vice-president of the National Lawyer’s Guild. She is also an active member of the Association of Women Law Students, the Black Law Students Association, and the International Law Society and was also invited to join the St. Thomas More Inn of Court.

During the summers of 2014 and 2015, Ms. Clay clerked for Legal Services of North Louisiana in Shreveport, Louisiana. Ms. Clay has also clerked for The Advocacy Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is currently a student practitioner in the Criminal Prosecution Clinic at Loyola’s Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice. Ms. Clay is a native of Vivian, Louisiana. Prior to law school, she received a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Following graduation in May 2016, she plans to sit for the Louisiana Bar Examination.


Ellen Baggett, Secretary

Ellen Baggett is a third-year law student at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. She serves as this year’s Executive Board Secretary. In 2014-2015, she competed in the intramural competition at the Twenty-Fourth Judicial District Court and served as a witness in the National Trial Competition at the U.S. Eastern District of Louisiana. During this time, Ms. Baggett was serving as an extern for the United States Coast Guard.

In addition to her involvement in the Trial Advocacy program, Ms. Baggett served as 2014-2015 Chief Justice of the legal fraternity Phi Alpha Delta and is a member of the Journal of Public Interest Law. Her legal experience includes clerking for Fifth Circuit Judge, Honorable Fredericka Wicker, Shields Mott, and the Voorhies Law Firm.

Ms. Baggett was born and raised in New Orleans.  Prior to law school, she attended Mount Carmel Academy and Florida State University, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy.  Following graduation in May 2016, she plans to sit for the Louisiana Bar Examination.


Melanie Cleveland, National Coach

Melanie Cleveland is a 3rd year law student at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law.  After growing up in upstate New York, she relocated to North Carolina for 9 years before deciding to come to Loyola in New Orleans.  After much consideration, she is proud to now call New Orleans home and intends to take the July 2016 bar in Louisiana.

Melanie currently serves Trial Advocacy as the coach for the National Teams.  Before entering Loyola, Melanie earned her bachelor’s of science degree in psychology and criminal justice from Columbia College as well as her master’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Phoenix.  During her second year, Melanie was a competitor in the Trial Advocacy intramural competition in Fall 2014 after which she received an award for Best Opening Statement.  She went on to compete in the American Association of Justice competition in Spring 2015 where her team came in 6th place overall.

In addition to Trial Advocacy, Melanie is a member of the National Lawyer’s Guild, Phi Delta Phi, and Phi Alpha Delta.  During the 2015 summer, she was accepted to the summer internship program offered by the Gillis Long Poverty Law Center.  She is continuing to work at the Advocacy Center for the duration of her third year. 


Zach Grate, Chief of Staff

Zach Grate is from Montgomery, Alabama and graduated from Loyola University New Orleans with an Honors degree in Political Science.

He is currently pursuing a civil law degree with an aim to practice criminal law upon passage of the bar exam. He has been involved in trial advocacy for eight years, including competing nationally representing both Alabama and Loyola University College of Law. He is also practicing criminal defense at the Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice during the 2015-2016 academic year under Professor Steven Singer. As Chief of Staff, Zach seeks to help advocates develop the skills they need to continue Loyola’s reputation as a successful advocacy program and to be well prepared for when they begin the practice of law.


Teri Black, Treasurer

Teri Black, a native of New Orleans, is a third-year evening division law student at Loyola University College of Law, where she serves as Treasurer for the Trial Advocacy Program. Ms. Black received the honor of "Best Direct Examination" during the Fall 2014 Trial Advocacy Intramural Competition. In Spring 2015, she competed in the Texas Young Lawyers Association’s National Trial Competition.  Ms. Black's practical legal experience includes working full-time as a law clerk for the Jefferson Parish Attorney's Office since 2012. Ms. Black graduated from Grambling State University with a degree in Marketing. While in college, she served as Vice President for the Student Government Association and was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. Following graduation, she plans to sit for the Louisiana State Bar Examination. 


Thierry Marceaux, Alumni/PR Chairman

A native New Orleanian, Thierry Marceaux holds a B.A. in Political Science with focuses in American Government and Comparative Politics from Louisiana State University. While there, Thierry was an active participant in student government and greek life and interned on Capitol Hill for Senator David Vitter during the summer. Prior to his arrival at Loyola Law School, Thierry worked for The Kingsley Group and then for Chopin, Wagar, Richard & Kutcher, LLP, as a paralegal assistant.

At Loyola Law School, Thierry's particular interest is Environmental law. He is also interested in Real Estate law. Thierry is also the Public Relations Coordinator for the Maritime Law Society at Loyola Law School. Last summer he worked for the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Regional Counsel (Region VI) in Dallas, TX and plans to spend the upcoming summer studying for the Louisiana and Texas Bars. Although his career goals are not quite set, Thierry is interested in criminal prosecution and perhaps working for an oil & gas corporation as in-house counsel after spending some time at a corporate law firm.