February 28, 2009

Yale, Santa Clara impress at ICC Trial Competition

A few weeks back I reported that Santa Clara University School of Law and Yale Law School had advanced to the International Criminal Court Trial Competition at the Hague. Although Santa Clara topped Yale at the national rounds, Yale fared better internationally, taking second place behind Bond University from Australia. Santa Clara represented though, finishing in fourth place out of 19 teams.

Yale also won the Best Memorial award, Best Prosecutor Award, and Best Defence Counsel Award. Not quite sure how you win both the prosecution and defense award, but I guess that means Yale must have been pretty good.

Full results are here.

February 27, 2009

Finalists for National Trial Competition announced

The Texas Young Lawyers Association has announced the 28 teams that will meet in San Antonio March 25-28 to compete for the top prize at the National Trial Competition. The two teams from each region to advance are:

Region 1 (Conn., Me., N.H., R.I., Vt.):
Suffolk University Law School (2 teams)

Region 2 (N.Y.):
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law/Yeshiva University
Syracuse University College of Law

Region 3 (Del., N.J., Pa., W. Va.):
Temple University Beasley School of Law
Villanova University School of Law

Region 4 (Md., Va., D.C.):
American University Washington College of Law
University of Virginia School of Law

Region 5 (Ga., N.C., S.C., Tenn.):
University of Georgia School of Law (2 teams)

Region 6 (Ala., Fla., Miss.):
Samford University Cumberland School of Law
University of Mississippi School of Law

Region 7 (Ky., Mich., Ohio):
Ave Maria School of Law
University of Kentucky College of Law

Region 8 (Ill., Ind.):
Chicago-Kent College of Law (champions in 2007 and 2008)
Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Region 9 (Iowa, Minn., Mo., Wis.):
Washington University in St. Louis School of Law
University of Wisconsin Law School

Region 10 (La., Tex.):
Baylor Law School (2 teams)

Region 11 (Ark., Colo., Kan., N.M., Okla.):
University of Arkansas School of Law
University of Colorado Law School

Region 12 (Idaho, Mont., Neb., N.D., Or., S.D., Wash., Wyo.):
University of North Dakota School of Law
University of South Dakota School of Law

Region 13 (Nev., N. Cal.):
Stanford Law School
University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law

Region 14 (Ariz., S. Cal., Utah):
Loyola Law School Los Angeles
Southwestern Law School

Congrats to the advancing teams, and good luck in San Antonio. Can Chicago-Kent be the first school in history to three-peat??? Loyola Los Angeles (2005 & 2006), Temple (1998 & 1999), and Stetson University College of Law (1989 & 1990) are the only schools other than Chicago-Kent to pull off back-to-back wins...

William and Mary flexes muscles again at Sports Law competition

In what appears to be a year of repeats, William and Mary Law School won the Tulane Law School Moot Court Mardi Gras Invitational Sports Law Competition last weekend for the second year in a row, besting 37 other teams to take its second national championship this month. Western State University College of Law took second place; University of Virginia School of Law and Capital University Law School finished as semifinalists.

Florida Coastal School of Law was awarded Best Brief, and Sarah Grimm of THE Ohio State University Moritz College of Law won Top Oralist.

More information from Tulane's Sports Law Blog is here, while the competition website is here.

February 26, 2009

BYU wins Vanderbilt First Amendment competition

Fresh off its win at the Religious Freedom moot court tournament, Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School was crowned champion last weekend at the 19th Annual National First Amendment Moot Court Competition, sponsored by the First Amendment Center and Vanderbilt University Law School (the tournament is separate from last fall's Burton D. Wechsler First Amendment Moot Court Competition at American University Washington College of Law) . The University of Mississippi School of Law finished second among 36 teams. Brooklyn Law School and UC Davis King Hall School of Law were the semifinalists.

BYU won the Best Brief plaque, with Sarah McBride of UC Davis receiving Best Oralist honors.

Full results, including pictures and monetary prize amounts, are here.

February 25, 2009

Ruminations on data from last year's NAAC

Well, the regional rounds of the ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition kick off tomorrow, so for the next three weekends, 187 teams from 110 schools (five teams who had signed up did not submit briefs) will start the long march to Chicago. Of course, I'm always interested in competition results, but I'm particularly geeked up to see how things shake out this year after examining some data from last year's competition.

Professor Kent Streseman's (Chicago-Kent College of Law) e-mail comment to me from the National Moot Court Competition about the "air of arbitrariness" that exists at tournaments got me thinking: Just how reliable are the results that all of us, as law schools, trumpet around as "proof" that our advocacy programs are better than the next guy's? Because it's one of the few two-stage (regionals plus nationals) moot court competitions that gives us information on the top finishers at each stage, I dissected last year's results from the NAAC to see if there was anything consistent between the two. I didn't find a whole lot that made sense, so I'm issuing the following advice to coaches and students:

1. Disappointed with your brief score at regionals? Don't fret. Of the 25 teams that advanced to last year's national finals, only 7 won any type of brief recognition at their regional competitions. In other words, nearly 75 percent of teams that advanced to the national finals did not even place within the top five of briefs at their regionals. That's not particularly surprising to me; because a team's brief score is not factored in past the preliminary rounds (a rule change instituted two years ago), teams with strong brief scores don't really hold an appreciable advantage at the NAAC regionals.

2. Had a good brief score at regionals and advanced to Chicago? Don't get cocky.
Here's what did surprise me: Of the seven advancing teams that did win regional brief awards, just two won brief awards at nationals. Otherwise put, of the five briefs that won national awards, the majority had not garnered even top-five recognition in their respective regions. How can that be? Remember--the briefs get re-scored by new graders in Chicago.

Last year, the national best brief (Michigan State University College of Law) had only been the fourth best brief in its region. The top two brief scores in that region both came from Regent University School of Law, which did advance both of its teams to nationals. But neither Regent brief--both of which outscored Michigan State at regionals--failed to even place in the top five at nationals.

3. Oralists not getting high scores? Worry not. Sixty one people (one region had a tie for 10th place) received top-ten speaker recognition at regionals. But only 19 of them were on on teams that advanced to nationals. In other words, only 30-or-so percent of those students who were named as Best Advocates in their respective regions went on to compete at the national level.

4. Won a speaker award at regionals and advanced to Chicago? You may not be so lucky at nationals. Of the 19 nationally advancing advocates who did garner speaker recognition at the local level, only 4 won any type of national award. Otherwise put: Of the 10 students who won national speaker awards, 6 of them hadn't even placed in the top ten of speakers if their regions.

5. 2008's National Best Advocate was pretty good. Of all the data I looked at, only one thing made sense: The first-place advocate at the national rounds was kind of awesome. That distinction went to Jennifer Bellott of the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. At the regional competition, she ranked second. Who was first? Elizabeth Barchas of Harvard Law School, whose team ultimately defeated Bellott and Memphis in the national championship game. Aside from that fact, I saw Ms. Bellott myself in Chicago at a preliminary round against my Texas Wesleyan team, and she was extraordinarily good. So, in short, the National Best Advocate also ranked as the number-two best advocate at her regional, where the number-one speaker was on the team that went on to win the whole shebang.

So what can we learn from this? Aside from the lessons above, maybe not a whole lot. Although I think the NAAC is one of the best (if not THE best) competitions in the country, the nature of the activity lends itself to arbitrary results. How can a brief dominate at the national level but stink at the local level? I don't know, but as anyone who's been doing this long enough will tell you, it seems to happen more often than not.

As for the oralist discrepancy, that's probably easier to explain. Most oralist awards (ABA included) are calculated by averaging speaker points from the first few rounds. The problem, of course, is that different judges have different standards--an 85, for example, may be an outstanding score in one judge's mind, while just a mediocre score in another's. So when you combine that fact with the relatively small sample size of three or four rounds, you wind up with results that can be all over the board.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how this year's NAAC results compare to last year's. Scoring-wise, there's only one rule change: In the post-preliminary round at both regionals and nationals, the winning team will be the one who garners a majority of ballots, as opposed to a majority of points. That will take care of the problem of a team winning only one judge's ballot, but winning it by a bazillion points and therefore stealing the round.

By the way--one interesting note: Harvard, last year's national champion, isn't even competing this year. Anyone else find it odd that it wouldn't want to defend its championship?

February 24, 2009

Update on Elon mock trial mixup

In what might be my first real indication that people actually read this rag, I received a call yesterday from Phillip Craft, the Director of Communications at Elon University School of Law, in response to Friday's post. He acknowledged that its website's news article on "Elon Mock Trial" should have more clearly spelled out that the win pertained to its undergraduate team, and not that of the law school. As he explained, the law school thought it was important news that belonged on its own website because one of its students coached the undergraduate team.

As you can see here, Elon has edited the article to clear things up.

Northwestern strikes hard bargain, wins ABA Negotiations Competition

Northwestern University School of Law won the national championship at the finals of the American Bar Association Negotiations Competition held February 13-14. The tournament, which took place in Boston at the ABA's mid-year meeting, featured 25 teams that advanced from the 10 regional competitions held across the country in November.

UC Davis King Hall School of Law finished second at the national finals, while Florida International University College of Law and Washington and Lee University School of Law finished third and fourth, respectively.

Click here for full results. Washington and Lee has a website write up here, along with a picture of its team.

February 23, 2009

Lewis & Clark takes Environmental Law crown for second straight year

Congratulations to Lewis & Clark Law School, which won the 21st Annual National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition at Pace Law School this past weekend. The Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University and the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah finished the 70-team tournament as finalists. For those unfamiliar with Pace, the problem is three-sided, so each round actually consists of three teams.

The University of Houston Law Center took home the Best Overall Brief trophy, and Charlotte Youngblood of LSU won Best Oralist.

More results are here. I'll update this post with the semifinalists once Pace posts them.

For Lewis & Clark, the win is its second straight, and third since 2004 (it also was a finalist in 2007). Meanwhile, the victory will instantaneously make it lawschooladvocacy.com's "top moot court program" of 2009. As I've said here numerous times before, that site's oversimplified points system places entirely too much emphasis on Pace (and other large, single-stage tournaments, such as the 50-or-so-team Duberstein National Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition). An example of the ridiculousness: Lewis & Clark, with its 2008 win, finished last year as a "top 25" moot court "program" despite accumulating a total of ZERO points at any other competition.

February 20, 2009

William & Mary winner at Regent Constitutional Law competition

In what seems like an oddity to me, William & Mary Law School won the 8th Annual National Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition held February 6-7, essentially trading trophies with Regent University School of Law -- the competition host and winner of last weekend's Spong competition at William & Mary. Elon University School of Law took second place in the tournament, which featured 12 teams from eight schools.

Elon also won the Best Brief Award. Tyler Smith of Roger Williams University School of Law won Best Oralist.

Full results are here, including a link to video of the final round. Elon's website write up is here, which also references its Best Brief Award at the Charleston School of Law National Moot Court Competition.

I should say, I am a bit concerned at what I can only hope is a mix-up by Elon's communications department. The "News" section of its law school website features an article titled "Elon Mock Trial advances to championship series in March." Unfortunately, the mock trial competition discussed in the article is for undergraduate schools, and not law students. That's not clear in the article itself, however, and given its placement on the law school's website, anyone not familiar with the American Mock Trial Association might attribute the undergraduate team's success to the law school. Of course, I guess it's possible that Elon has resorted to entering its law school teams into undergraduate competitions (ala Seinfeld's Cosmo Kramer's domination of a youth karate dojo), but I'll give them benefit of the doubt here that it's just an honest mix up by Elon's PR folks.

Regent repeats, takes trophy at Spong

Regent University School of Law made good this past weekend on its bid for back-to-back wins at the 38th Annual William B. Spong Moot Court Tournament at William & Mary Law School. New York University School of Law finished second in the field of 23 teams. Seventeen schools competed.

NYU also won the Best Petitioner's Brief Award, while American University Washington College of Law won the counterpart award for the Respondent. Clint Claypole of The University of Oklahoma Law Center won Best Oralist.

Click here for full results; Regent's deserved horn tooting is here. My friend Brian Koppen must be smiling; Regent pats itself on the back for its semifinal win over South Texas College of Law, which the post author describes as "currently the top-ranked moot court program in the country." Of course, I'm unfamiliar with any ranking system other than Koppen's, whose 2008 rankings (which, for some reason, he hasn't yet "locked" -- remember, he operates on the calendar, and not academic, year) have South Texas sitting on an insurmountable lead over second-place UC Hastings College of the Law.

February 17, 2009

Catholic University makes right call, wins Telecommunications competition

Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law placed first at its own tournament, winning the 15th Annual National Telecommunications Moot Court Competition held February 6-7. Last year's champion, Southwestern Law School, finished second. University of Wisconsin Law School and University of Colorado Law School were the two semifinalists. The tournament, which is co-sponsored by the Federal Communications Bar, started with 11 teams.

Catholic also won the Best Brief plaque, while Timothy Kuhn and Jenny Vandermeuse of Wisconsin finished in a tie for Best Oral Advocate.

Catholic's press release, including a picture of its winning team, is here.

BYU top team at Religious Freedom moot court

Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School won the National Religious Freedom Moot Court Competition, held February 6-7 at the George Washington University Law School. Florida State University College of Law took second place. George Washington and UC Davis School of Law rounded out the semifinalists. The tournament fielded 19 teams from 16 law schools.

UC Davis's brief won the top prize, and as a result, will be published in the Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion. Ashley Mayer of Florida State was awarded the Best Advocate trophy.

Full results are here.

February 16, 2009

DePaul "all growns up," winner at Juvenile Law competition

Forgive the headline; I couldn't resist: "Swingers" is one of my favorite movies. Anyway, DePaul University College of Law was totally Money at the 14th Annual National Juvenile Law Moot Court Competition held February 6-7. Seton Hall University School of Law finished second at the 14-team competition, which is put on by Whittier Law School and its Center for Children's Rights. I've been told Howard University School of Law was a semifinalist, but nobody seems to know the other semifinalist. E-mail me and I'll happily update...

DePaul also won the Best Brief Award, and Richard Trotter of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law won Best Oral Advocate.

Full results (sans semifinalists), with pictures of the award winners, are here.

February 12, 2009

Washingon, John Marshall top dogs at National Animal Law Competitions

University of Washington School of Law won the blue ribbon last weekend in the Appellate Moot Court phase of the National Animal Law Competitions, besting 13 other teams from a total of 11 schools. Meanwhile, in the Closing Argument phase of the competitions, Cheyne Adam and David Lipschutz--both of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago--tied for first place.

Lewis & Clark Law School finished second in the moot court competition. New York Law School and a second team from Lewis & Clark were the semifinalists. UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law won Best Overall Brief and Best Petitioner Brief; Lewis & Clark won Best Respondent Brief. Nicholas Hudson of Washington was named Best Oralist.

In the 16-person Closing Argument Comeptition, Robyn Katz (coached by yours truly) of Texas Tech University School of Law and the enviably-named Annmarie Robustelli of Lewis & Clark rounded out the four finalists.

The two competitions were held at Harvard Law School but sponsored by Lewis & Clark's Center for Animal Law Studies in collaboration with the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

LSU repeats as champion of Florida Bar National Tax Moot Court Competition

The Paul M. Herbert Law Center at Louisiana State University repeated as champions last weekend at the National Tax Moot Court Competition. The 16-team tournament, not to be confused with the Mugel National Tax Moot Court Competition at University of Buffalo Law School, is sponsored by the Florida Bar Tax Section. University of Florida Fredric G. Levin College of Law took second place. University of Baltimore School of Law and William Mitchell College of Law finished third and fourth, respectively.

Suffolk University Law School won the award for Best Brief; LSU's David Conachen took home the Best Oralist plaque.

Click here for LSU's website write up, which features a picture of its winning team and hardware.

Darras Disability Law competition still has openings

For anyone looking for a last-minute competition opportunity this spring, Dean James Hayes at Western State University College of Law asked me to pass along that the Frank N. Darras Disability Law Moot Court Competition is still accepting entries. The competition is March 27-28 in Fullerton, California (very close to Disneyland!). Brief are due March 13. To sweeten the pot, Western State has added $2,500 in cash prizes.

For more information, contact Dean Hayes at (714) 459-1136/jhayes@wsulaw.edu, or competition coordinator Pam Halverson at (714) 459-1196/phalverson@wsulaw.edu.

UC Hastings winner at Asylum and Refugee Law moot court competition

UC Hastings College of the Law took the top prize at last weekend's Asylum and Refugee Law National Moot Court Competition, hosted by UC Davis School of Law. Campbell University Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law finished second at the 13-team competition, which is in its second year. UC Hastings finished first at last year's tournament as well.

Campbell won the Best Brief award, and its own Beth Stowell was named Best Oralist.

Full results are here. UC Hastings has a website write up.

February 11, 2009

Santa Clara, Yale advance to International Criminal Court Trial Competition

Santa Clara University School of Law and Yale Law School finished first and second, respectively, at the North American Rounds of the International Criminal Court Trial Competition held January 30 through February. Both schools will compete at the Hague next week for international bragging rights. Pace Law School, host of the 10-team tournament, finished in third place. Although the international tournament is dubbed a "trial" competition, it seems to follow more of a moot court format.

Yale won the award for Best Prosecution Brief, Capital University Law School won Best Defense Brief, and Pace won the Best Victim's Advocate Brief. Chavi Keeney Nana of Yale won Best Overall Oralist, while Brandon Douglas of Santa Clara won Best Final Round Oralist.

Pace's website purports to have a link to video of the final round, but I couldn't get it to work. Santa Clara's website report is here.

February 10, 2009

Seton Hall takes Charleston moot court crown

Seton Hall University School of Law won the second annual Charleston School of Law National Moot Court Competition this past weekend. Florida Coastal School of Law took second place at the tournament, which drew 15 teams from nine schools. Duke University School of Law and Seton Hall's second team were the semifinalists. The competition topic was constitutional law.

Elon University School of Law won Best Brief; Ryan Hart of Seton Hall won Best Oral Advocate.

I couldn't find website write-ups from Seton Hall, Florida Coastal, or Duke, but Elon's is here. Charleston's press release is here.

February 5, 2009

Chicago-Kent makes history; wins NMC

Chicago-Kent College of Law was crowned champion at the National Moot Court competition tonight, defeating University of Pennsylvania Law School in an outstanding final round. Daniel Schwei of Penn was named Outstanding Oralist of the round, with Betsy Gates of Chicago-Kent finishing second in the balloting. Brooklyn Law School won the Best Brief award.

There were some problems (at least that I experienced) with the webcast cutting in and out, but that's not terribly surprising. Regardless, webcasting the round is a tremendous service, and I'm thrilled the New York City Bar Young Lawyers Association has continued the webcast since launching it two years ago. Hopefully, other competitions (ABA, I'm looking at you) will follow suit. It allows students, parents, professors, and alums back home to tune in and watch an event that is incredibly important to those involved. If history holds, the New York City Bar Young Lawyers Association should post a clean copy of the video on its website at some point.

Speaking of history, Chicago-Kent may have achieved what no moot court program ever has: Back-to-back championships at the NMC. As I wrote in an earlier post, the only records I could find go back to 1977, and from that, it appears no one has ever pulled off the repeat in consecutive years. Some old-timers I talked today said that to their knowledge, it hadn't happened before 1977 either. Regardless, Chicago-Kent and Professor Kent Streseman, Director of the school's Ilana Diamond Rovner Program in Appellate Advocacy, deserve hearty congratulations for their tremendous accomplishment.

And then there were four: NMC update

Chicago-Kent College of Law, Brooklyn Law School, University of Pennsylvania Law School, and the College of Law at Loyola University New Orleans have advanced to the semi-finals of the national rounds of the National Moot Court Competition. Brooklyn has won the national best brief award, while Penn's brief is ranked second.

Reminder: The final round will take place tonight at 8 p.m. EST, and will be webcast. Click here for the link.

Thanks to Professor Kent Streseman at Chicago-Kent for the e-mail update, who also added:
Procedurally, things are as smooth as I've ever seen here; the organizers continue to improve transparency and quality control regarding scoring. But my sense early on was that too many judges had too much difficulty grasping the issues, which (as always) creates an air of arbitrariness. From where I sit, though, things have improved significantly on that front as we get deeper into the tournament.
The judging issue doesn't surprise me; that's typically the story at every competition, the National being no exception. And for those of you familiar with this year's problem, it's a Beast (yes, the capital "B" is warranted). So again, no surprise that early round judges struggled a bit.

By the way, as most of you know, Professor Streseman's team is the defending champion. I've only seen records as far back as 1977, but it's worth noting that at least since then, no team has repeated in consecutive years. Regardless of whether he and his students make history tonight, I think it's fair to say that just getting back to the semis is an incredible feat.

February 2, 2009

National Moot Court Competition finals start today

The finals of the National Moot Court Competition get underway later today in Manhattan. For those who are there, send me any updates and I'll happily post.

As they've done for the past few years, the Young Lawyers Committee will webcast the final round, which starts at 8 p.m. EST on Thursday. Click here for the show; although there's no link yet, the Committee says there will be one by game day.

Good luck to the 28 teams competing!