Students Enjoy Record Year in Advocacy Competitions
This was the most successful academic year ever for Law School students in national advocacy competitions, according to a tally by student organizers.
“It’s absolutely by far been the best year UVA has ever had,” said third-year law student Jonathan Ware, who is vice-chair of the Law School’s extramural moot court organization.
Nearly 80 students participated in extramural moot court and mock trial competitions, while almost 200 competed in the internal William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition.
Law students Megan Strand, Wenhong You, Jonathan Ware, Caitlin Stapleton and John Beckett wrote a brief that earned first place among U.S. competitors in the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition International Round and third place overall. The team also was a finalist in the Super Regional Round, where the team won third place for their brief. The Jessup contest is the world's largest moot court competition, with participants from over 500 law schools in more than 80 countries.
In total, students took home 26 honors in competitions against other schools, up from 15 last year and only four in the year before. Ware attributed the success to several factors, including organizational improvements, student coaches and a new Web site.
“We’ve done a better job of trying to institutionalize what we provide,” he said.
This year, students created an extramural board that included student coaches, and also reached out to local attorneys to help coach the teams. For the second year, coaches from the Judge Advocate General’s School assisted competitors. Extramural moot court competitions focus on appellate advocacy.
The board also created an updated handbook covering areas such as brief writing and competition structure, a revision that Ware said was long overdue.
“The Moot Court Board made a handbook in 1969, or 1970, and it hadn’t been revised since then,” he said.
Many of this year’s accolades came despite the fact that UVA students often compete against students from schools with programs in which participation counts for academic credit, Ware said.
“Students do a tremendous, amazing job, against these schools that really make [the competitions] an institutional thing and go out there with the mentality that ‘This is how we want to make our name as a law school,’ as well as against our peer law schools, the Harvards and the Columbias.”
Virginia also allows first-year students to compete in extramural competitions, though many schools reserve that right for second- and third-years.
Ware said allowing first-year students to participate helps increase the institutional knowledge of the advocacy programs, which are traditionally run largely by third-year students.
Many of the first-year students took advantage of the opportunity. One, Jonathan Wolfson, beat out 49 other competitors to win Best Oralist at the William B. Spong Invitational Moot Court Tournament at the College of William and Mary.
“I think that’s a huge benefit to be able to get that experience as soon as you get in the door,” said Wolfson, who argued a voter identification case similar to one recently taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Wolfson said the competition gave him an opportunity to analyze both sides of the issue, as participants were required to argue multiple positions.
“You realize that in a lot of ways you’re learning to be a lawyer in a really practical way when you are in the competition process,” he said.
Stephen Anthony, a second-year law student who was named Best Oralist at the National Black Law Students Association’s Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Competition, also said he benefited from the hands-on learning opportunities presented by the advocacy competitions.
“I think overall it was a good experience in applying legal knowledge in a way that a lot of students don’t get a chance to do,” Anthony said. “I think especially if you are not a person who’s into the theoretical type of things, mock trial and moot court are good avenues to give you some advantages.”
Ware said the board’s goals are to continue to encourage faculty contributions, increase attention to coaching and brief writing — students have earned just two brief awards in the past two years, compared to 14 oralist awards — and to expand and develop oral advocacy workshops.
“I find it the most rewarding experience I’ve done in law school,” he said of his own participation in extramural competitions.
Here’s a list of this year’s winners:
In extramural appellate advocacy:
- First-place Team, Sutherland Cup Competition: Joelle Perry, Thom Gray, Carlton Gammons.
- First-place U.S. Brief, Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition International Round: Jonathan Ware, Megan Strand, Caitlin Stapleton, Wenhong You, John Beckett
- Finalists, Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition Super Regional: Jonathan Ware, Megan Strand, Caitlin Stapleton, Wenhong You, John Beckett
- Finalists, Saul Lefkowitz Regional Moot Court Competition in Trademarks: Emily Alexander, Kendra Paul
- Finalists, Henry G. Manne Moot Court in Law and Economics: Landon Allred, Josh Gayfield, Chris Bornhorst
- Semifinalists, ABA National Appellate Advocacy Moot Court Competition Regional: Michael Akavan, Jon Lasken
- Quarterfinalists, National Sports Law Tournament: Jon Lucier, Jonathan Ganter
- Quarterfinalists, Luke Charles Moore Invitational Competition: Seth Jessee, Lanora Pettit, Smitha Dante
- Third-place Brief, Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition International Round: Jonathan Ware, Megan Strand, Caitlin Stapleton, Wenhong You, John Beckett
- Third-place Brief, Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition Super Regional: Caitlin Stapleton, Megan Strand, Jonathan Ware, Wenhong You, John Beckett
- Best Oralist, William B. Spong Invitational Moot Court Tournament: Jonathan Wolfson
- Best Oralist, Henry G. Manne Moot Court in Law and Economics: Landon Allred
- Best Oralist, John Marshall Law School International Moot Court Competition in Information Technology & Privacy Law: Brandon Graves
- Second-place Oralist, National Sports Law Tournament: Jon Lucier
- Second-place Oralist, William B. Spong Invitational Moot Court Tournament: Dean Razavi
- Fifth-place Oralist, Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition International Round: Caitlin Stapleton
In mock trial:
- First-place Team, National Black Law Students Association’s Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Competition Regional: Kala Hardy, Jennifer DaCosta, Bobbie King, Germaine Dunn
- Finalists, National Trial Competition Regional: Lauren Charneski, Mike Thompson, Eric Gerard
- Finalists, American Association for Justice Student Trial Advocacy Competition: Daniel Burgess, Nicole Stockey, Travis McGivern, Tyler Brown
- Finalists, National Black Law Students Association’s Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Competition Regional: Stephen Anthony, Jennifer Jessie, Xavier Carter, Ramona Quillet
- Semifinalists, National Trial Competition Regional: Laura Bower, Ryan Faulconer
- Outstanding Attorney Award, ABA National Criminal Justice Trial Advocacy Competition: Laura Bower
In other law-related competitions:
- Quarterfinalists, Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot: Lauren Bertini, Robert DeRise, Sally Laing, Megan Strand, Jonathan Ware
- Quarterfinalists, Robert R. Merhige, Jr. National Environmental Negotiation Competition: Scott Schwartz, Jim Joyce
- Honorable Mention Oralist, Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot: Lauren Bertini
- Kingdon Moot Court Prize – Lile Winners: Rebecca Mroz, Michael Hollander
- Stephen Pierre Traynor Award – Best Oralist of the Lile Final Round: Rebecca Mroz
- James M. Shoemaker, Jr., Moot Court Awards – Finalists of the Lile Competition: Rebecca Mroz, Michael Hollander, Adam Gordon, Lucien Smith
- Paul Hastings Best Oralist Award – Lile Round One: Josh Hess
- Paul Hastings Best Oralist Award – Lile Round Two: Jonathan Tannen and Benjamin Sachs
- McGuireWoods Best Brief Award – Lile Round One: Rob Painter
- McGuireWoods Best Brief Award – Lile Round Two: Paul Mysliwiec and Josh Katcher
• REPORTED BY Rob Seal