Introducing the 2020 Syracuse University College of Law Lee S. Michaels Advocate Award and Scholarship Recipient: Joe Tantillo!

Introducing this year’s proud recipient, the second ever, of the Syracuse University College of Law’s prestigious Lee S. Michaels Advocate Award and Scholarship: Joseph Tantillo.

Congratulations Joe!

More about Joe in a minute.  But first something about the award itself.  Last year we announced that M&S’s senior lawyer, Lee S. Michaels, had established and endowed the Syracuse University College of Law Lee S. Michaels Advocate Award and Scholarship. Lee, a die-hard S.U. supporter, graduated from the Law College in 1967, was active in alumni activities and events for many years, and has been teaching trial practice since 1990 and deposition practice there since last Fall.

Each year a selection committee, which does not include Lee, chooses a rising second-year student, with top excellence in trial or appellate advocacy, to receive the award.

The 2019 recipient of the award was Adam Leydig, who graduates from the College of Law this spring.

Now more about this year’s recipient, Joe Tantillo.  Joe hails from Buffalo, New York, but attended college in Scotland at the University of St Andrews where he studied international relations. When it came time to decide on a law school, he chose to return to his Upstate New York roots. A longtime Syracuse basketball fan, choosing S.U. law was as easy as a layup.

At S.U. Law, Joe has been actively involved in the Law Review (top academic honor) and the Advocacy Honor Society (top advocate honor). He developed a passion, and a flair, for legal writing, by honing his skills on the National Moot Court Competition team. While appellate advocacy has been his focus in the Advocacy Honor Society, he hopes to become an accomplished trial lawyer as well.

Joe is no stranger to awards. Together with his friend and roommate Thomas J. Finnigan III, Joe won this year’s 48th Annual Mackenzie Hughes, LLP, Edmund H. Lewis Appellate Advocacy Competition. In the final round, the Honorable Michael J. Garcia, Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals (New York’s highest court) graded Joe’s and Tom’s brief against the other finalists’ briefs. Guess who came up on top?

Joe’s accomplishment’s don’t stop there.  Along with fellow law student Aubre Dean, a former student of Lee’s, Joe won best brief at the regional round in Boston of the National Moot Court Competition team. They finished in first place in the region overall, and won the award for best advocate in the final round. They went on to compete in the National Rounds in New York City. There, they won several rounds before being narrowly defeated in Round 16. They were proud to be within the top 16 appellate teams in the nation, in a competition that began with over 150 teams.

Joe did not waste any time in starting his winning streak at S.U.  In his first year, he took the 9th Annual Hancock Estabrook Oral Advocacy competition.

Joe is currently a member of the Appellate, Trial, and Alternate Dispute Resolution divisions of the Advocacy Honor Society.  He was also recently named as the AHS Executive Director.

After law school, Joe plans to practice civil litigation. And he’s off to a good start: Starting in June he will be working as a summer associate at the very distinguished Hodgson Russ LLP law firm in Buffalo.

The many awards and honors Joe has received in law school have not dampened the thrill of receiving them. He considers the  Lee S. Michaels Advocate Award and Scholarship one of his finest achievements.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.” Joe clearly works hard, and that’s why “luck”  visits him so often.  We at M&S “wish” him yet more luck in his very bright future.

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

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