Jon Davidi sponsors inaugural Mock Trial Advocate of the Year Award

Political science alumnus makes a meaningful impact through his career and pays it forward to SDSU Mock Trial Team students.

Friday, May 10, 2024
man with beard smiling

Jon Davidi (‘15), had plans to become a doctor – like his father. At San Diego State University, he pursued a major in political science and took science courses to prepare for a pre-med degree. He hoped this academic path would help him become a well-rounded medical school candidate who understood politics and the world. 

“But it was Organic Chemistry in my junior year that did me over,” Davidi said. “That was it. That was the tipping point.” 

One day his good friend asked him precisely why he was planning to go to med school. She suggested he try becoming a lawyer, instead. She thought he would be good at it.  

At that point, he held leadership roles in student organizations such as A.S. Student Government and the Jewish Student Union. He was part of the Iota Eta Pi Improv Team and he was a Resident Advisor (RA) in the dorms. 

“I think it was always what I wanted, but it was a little nudge that I needed,” he said. The night his friend nudged him, he jumped online to take 10 LSAT practice questions — and when he got eight answers right, he never looked back. 

He dropped pre-med plans and picked up a business minor to prepare himself for law school.

After his 2015 graduation from SDSU with a degree in political science, he attended University of California College of the Law, San Francisco (formerly UC Hastings). Davidi said everything clicked for him there and he found the work to be fun. At the end of his first year he noticed an announcement about Trial Team tryouts. He tried out and made the team that would eventually go on to become the 2018 American Association for Justice (AAJ) National Competition Champions

He competed in five or six competitions and found it to be the best training he ever received. He fondly remembers his coach, Geoffrey Hansen, a federal public defender, who was like a second dad to him. “He taught me so much about the importance of trial work,” Davidi said.

Now, Davidi is a lawyer with Los Angeles firm Panish | Shea | Ravipudi where he focuses on catastrophic personal injury cases. He’s been a lawyer for more than five years, and has brought nine cases to verdict — something in which he is immensely proud. The firm’s most recent successful case ended with an $11.045 million verdict for their client — a career high for Davidi. 

He continues his involvement with students at his alma maters: at UC Law SF, he is the co-chair of the Los Angeles alumni chapter; at SDSU, he is preparing to work with the SDSU alumni chapter in Los Angeles. He’s also part of the SDSU Pre-Law Society advisory board.

Supporting the SDSU Mock Trial team now is important for Davidi since he remembers how his law school trial team impacted his career. “It was an integral part of my training as an attorney, and I remember being in law school where there were people on our team and other teams who had done mock trial competitions as undergraduates — they had such an advantage. And I remember looking back and wishing that I had done that too,” he said.

Davidi knows that the costs of going to law school can be a burden, so he has chosen to give back in a meaningful way to SDSU. By creating the inaugural Mock Trial Advocate of the Year award, he is supporting two students, annually, with a $1,000 award. The award seeks to highlight two outstanding students from SDSU Mock Trial while inspiring the next generation of legal professionals. “Alumni from San Diego State University go on to law school and go on to have successful legal careers,” he said. “And I want to encourage trial work.” 

He understands the amount of work that it takes to prepare for a mock trial competition — the late nights, the numerous cups of coffee, and the travel. Davidi is inspired that undergraduate students want to put in the hard work to prepare for their future in law school and their careers in law. 

“They're investing in it early, and that makes me want to invest in them,” he said. “In addition to giving this award, I'm happy to be a resource to anyone on the Mock Trial team who has questions or needs a mentor or just wants to have a cup of coffee.”

“Donors like Jon Davidi, truly make a fundamental difference in the lives of our students,” said Kimberley Fletcher, associate professor of political science and SDSU Mock Trial faculty advisor. “A donation like this makes a world of difference in the life of the recipient, so Jon’s generosity means everything to our Mock Trial community.

Inaugural Mock Trial Advocates of the Year | 2024

Joshua Radzinski and Alexander Ortiz

By Ian Mariano Von Dyl, Mock Trial President, 2024 

three male students smiling, 2 hold awards

The Mock Trial Advocate of the Year award aims to annually acknowledge and highlight two students for their work throughout the mock trial season and encourage the next generation to pursue a legal career. In a historic competition season where we received two Top 10 rankings at competitions and took home eight individual awards, I am so proud of the work each of our members did. This year, we had two outstanding individuals who excelled in competitions and upheld the pillars of SDSU Mock Trial, Joshua Radzinski and Alexander Ortiz.

Joshua Radzinski is a graduating fourth-year student and in his third year with the program, one of our longest serving members, and has consistently been our best attorney. From presenting outstanding closing statements to successfully crossing a witness, his knowledge of mock trial and trial advocacy skills have seen him achieve great individual success and become a leader within our team. 

Alexander Ortiz is a third-year student and in his first year with the program. While new, SDSU Mock Trial leadership and I have been impressed by his immense dedication to the program, willingness to learn, and great teamwork. Alexander has won two individual awards this year for his portrayals as a witness and, as such, holds the record for the most awards won by an individual in our program’s history. Everyone at SDSU Mock Trial is excited to continue to see Alexander continue to grow and excel during his time with the program.

“Students who join [SDSU] Mock Trial gain analytical skills by evaluating cases and facts,” Kimberley Fletcher, associate professor of political science and SDSU Mock Trial faculty advisor said. “Students learn to build effective arguments and how to respond to questions quickly and articulately. Mock trial allows students to work as a team, but each team member has an essential role either as a lawyer or witness. Recognizing individuals provides a visible acknowledgment of the importance their contributions have made within [SDSU] Mock Trial. 

“To receive an award, such as the Mock Trial Advocate of the Year will ensure these awardees know how much they are appreciated,” Fletcher added. “This award not only recognizes their dedication, performance, leadership abilities, outstanding legal argumentation, and persuasive communication skills, but it also enhances the student’s confidence, highlights their commitment to continuously learn, and supports their desire to go to law school.”

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