Joseph Sise: Looking Beneath the Surface

Joseph Sise. Photo by Brian Vandervliet.

Joseph Sise. Photo by Brian Vandervliet.

By Brandi Palmer

Editor’s Note: Joseph Sise is the recipient of Stetson University College of Law’s prestigious Foreman Award, announced on May 18.

Joseph Sise, a third-year law student at Stetson graduating in May, is a member of Stetson’s Trial Team. He spends an average of 20 hours on weekends preparing for competitions scattered across the country from Kansas City to Miami, participating in four competitions as a 2L and five as a 3L. He is a state, regional and national champion on Trial Team, taking home first place at the National Civil Trial Competition in Los Angeles in 2016. Sise was also part of the team that won the Chester Bedell Trial Competition last year.

In his spare time, between classes and Trial Team practice, and serving as an associate editor on the Stetson Law Review, Sise has managed to write the draft of a novel.

“Law school teaches you to look beneath what seems obvious on the surface for the true underlying facts of a case,” said Sise. “You have to have the willingness to learn, and that means that you also have to have the willingness to be wrong in order to learn.”

Sise said that the practically oriented advocacy focus at Stetson drew him to the law school. He knew that he wanted to be an advocate when he came to Stetson, where he had an opportunity to join the Trial Team.

“Trial Team teaches you to have a confidence in the process and an awareness of how others perceive you, to learn how to talk with judges, appeal to other people, and leave your ego at the door,” he said. In preparing for every competition, Sise shared that researching the preferred presentation style involves thinking about the best way to connect with people and paying attention to different perspectives. During his last competition, Sise had the opportunity to present for both the prosecution and defense.

“I’ve built good relationships with people,” said Sise.

At Stetson, Sise is a teaching assistant for Professor Erika McArdle, a one-time Stetson Trial Team champion herself.

His grandfather, John Lynch of Naples, Florida, inspired him to go to law school. Sise’s dad Joe is a judge with the Supreme Court of New York and his mom Robin is a lawyer who worked on the model for Child Health Plus, a New York State program that provides health coverage to uninsured children, before taking a leave to raise four kids.

“My parents taught me the importance of different perspectives, about paying attention to someone who doesn’t agree with you, and about being empathetic,” said Sise.

After he graduates in May, he and his girlfriend Selena Lorry, who’s been accepted into a Ph.D. program doing research in cancer immunology at Duke University, will be moving to North Carolina in the summer.

“I’m open to a lot of things in the future,” said Sise, who has his sights on working as a plaintiff’s attorney. “Whatever you do, it gives you experience.”