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The Taste of Law 

Alumnus Adam Hunter Tastes Sweet Success as Howard Law Mock Trial Coach   

by Sholnn Freeman (MA '12, PHD '21)
Howard Law Moot Court

Variety is the spice of life, and it’s even been called the spice of love. But whoever said it was the spice of law? 

Adam Hunter (BA ’05, JD ’08) says it all the time to students as coach of the  Huver I. Brown Trial Advocacy Moot Court team at the Howard University School of Law. It’s a way to bolster students’ confidence for public speaking. The purpose of the team is to also help develop their litigation advocacy skills and analytical abilities. 

Adam Hunter
Adam Hunter leads the Huver I. Brown Trial Advocacy Moot Court team. Photo by Rin-rin Yu

“I was trying to find a different way to get students to be comfortable with who they are and where they are from so they could become memorable in trial competitions,” says Hunter, who asks members of the team to pick a favorite spice to represent where they come from.   

“Everyone is trying to get rid of their local flavor. I want students to embrace it.”  

Each spice typically originates from a specific geographical region and tends to carry a cultural meaning, Hunter says. So, if you’re from Louisiana-Texas region, maybe it’s creole. If you’re from New York, it could be everything bagel seasoning. 

“Everyone is trying to get rid of their local flavor,” Hunter says. “I want students to embrace it.”  

Under Hunter’s direction, the team has been tasting the sweetness of success. A series of regional competition wins propelled the team to upper echelon of national competitors. Founded in 1995, the team has gone from being not ranked at all to No. 5 in the nation by Fordham University. U.S. News & World Report rates the team at 25 nationally, making it one of the best-rated programs at the law school.   

I can be unapologetically me and still be a fierce advocate.”  

Along the way, the Howard mock trial team has beat some of the best programs in the country, including Georgetown and Harvard University. Many of these schools have multi-million-dollar endowments for their trial competition programs.  In 2023, the team was the Mid-Atlantic regional champions at the Student Trial Advocacy Competition through the American Association of Justice; the regional champions of the National Trial Competition at American University’s Washington College of Law, and national semi-finalists at the National Trial Competition at Bexar County Courthouse, among several other sweeping accolades. 

Adam Hunter with student
Adam Hunter speaks with law student and team business manager Dasia Moore

“The lesson about spices gives me confidence in public speaking and advocacy, and being myself,” says Dasia Moore, a third-year law student and the team’s business manager, who says her chosen spice was umami from Trader Joe’s. “I can be unapologetically me and still be a fierce advocate. I fit the role already.”  

Team captain Yvette Lopez from Simi Valley, California, selected Cholula hot sauce; it’s evident as she fired a line of questions towards  Anthony Stokes who played the witness, during a recent team practice. It’s curry powder of Stayce Evans, the team vice president; Frank’s Red Hot for team president Ishmael Muhammad, and Lawry’s seasoning for team member Akua Wilson.  All agree that the analogy helped them find their personal approach – and confidence – to trial law. 

In trial advocacy competitions, law students work together as either a plaintiff side, while a rival university handles the defense, or vice versa. There are opening statements, direct cross examinations, and closing arguments. Practicing judges and trial attorneys score trials and determine which teams win and advance.   

Hunter who serves as the chief administrative judge for the D.C. Rental Housing Commission, has a strong bond with the team. He himself was on the team in his years at Howard Law.  In 2019, Hunter took over coaching from Brandi Harden (BA ’97, JD ’00), who developed the team through more than 15 years of leadership. Harden served as Hunter’s team coach, when he was in law school.    

Hunter is native of Somerset, New Jersey. But his spice is Old Bay, because his mom's family is from Baltimore, and he loves seafood and everything crab. He is a polished speaker today, although that wasn’t always the case. As a child, he had a stammer and difficulty with grammar, exacerbated by the fact that both parents were public speaking aficionados. He eventually worked through it.   

“Public speaking is very vulnerable,” Hunter says. “You are putting yourself on display. A lot of times people think, let me imitate someone else, but you can’t do that and be your authentic self.”  


This story appears in the Spring/ Summer 2024 issue.
Article ID: 2071

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