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St. John’s Law Team Excels at Tulane National Baseball Arbitration Competition

L-R: Jonathan Goeringer, Michael Impellizeri, Robert Vogel, and Stephen Bock
Friday, February 6, 2015

For the first time in eight years, a team from St. John’s Law advanced past the first round of the National Baseball Arbitration Competition held at Tulane University Law School. Hosted annually by the Tulane Sports Law Society, this simulated salary arbitration competition is modeled closely on the procedures used by Major League Baseball (MLB). It provides a unique opportunity for students to sharpen their oral and written advocacy skill within the specialized context of MLB's salary arbitration proceedings.

The St. John’s team of Jonathan Goeringer '15, Michael Impellizeri '15, and Robert Vogel '16 was coached by Law School alumnus Stephen Bock '10, '13 LL.M.

“Having been a member of the first National Baseball Arbitration Competition team from St. John’s in 2010, it was extra special helping St. John’s success in this competition,” Bock said. “Mentoring and coaching three great students with promising legal careers as well as our talented practice team members, who put in a lot of hard work—including a four hour practice via Google Hangout in the middle of a blizzard on the night before we left for New Orleans—made this a truly outstanding experience.”

Moving through the competition rounds, St. John’s started at 3-0 in the preliminary rounds by besting teams from Florida State College of Law, Marquette University Law School, and New York University School of Law. In the quarter-finals, the team defeated Touro Law Center to secure a place in the final four before being eliminated by the University of Ottawa—the team that went on to win the competition in a split decision.

The volunteer arbitrators for the St. John’s competition rounds included:

• Scott Freedman, Manager of Baseball Analytics, Philadelphia Phillies
• Justin Hollander, Director of Baseball Operations, Los Angeles Angels
• Giles Kibbe, General Counsel, Houston Astros
• Marc Kligman, Baseball Agent, Total Care Sports Management
• Nick Krall, Director of Baseball Operations, Cincinnati Reds
• Damon Jones, Vice President and Club Counsel, Washington Nationals
• Nona Lee, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Arizona Diamondbacks
• Doyle Pryor, former Assistant General Counsel ,  MLB Players Association; longtime arbitrator of MLB salary arbitration cases

With a depth of experience and expertise in the field, they offered constructive feedback to, and had high praise for, the St. John’s competitors. “You could successfully argue these cases in front of a real arbitration panel in real salary arbitration cases today. I mean, you are ready,” one of the arbitrators said to Vogel following his performance in the semi-finals.

Another arbitrator on the panel had this to say to Goeringer after his 88-72 win in the quarter-finals: “Your pace, tone, and ability to convey complex substance in a short-period of time was truly astounding. Really, very, very well done.”  And when he capped off the team’s successful first day of competition with its third win in a row, Impellizeri heard this from one of the panelists: “You were able to walk me through exactly what I needed to hear with respect to your [comparable players] and you did it with the right amount of conviction.”

Displaying more than just top-notch oral advocacy skills, the St. John’s team placed first in the field of 40 law schools for their written briefs.

Reflecting on the competition, Goeringer said: “I’m very grateful for the support we received from the Law School’s Entertainment, Arts, and Sports Law Society and the Dispute Resolution Society. I’m absolutely thrilled and humbled to see our hard work recognized by such respected members of the baseball industry, and I hope to use these learning experiences to further my goal of joining that industry.”