January 31, 2012

Live blogging from the National Moot Court Competition

The national final rounds of the National Moot Court Competition kicked off last night in Manhattan, hosting 30 teams from the 15 regional rounds that took place in November. After two preliminary rounds, we're now at 16 teams, with the rest of the tournament following a "March Madness" elimination-style format. The octafinals and quarterfinals are Wednesday, while the semifinals and championship match take place Thursday.

The 16 octafinalists, in order of their seeds and preliminary round records:

1. Texas Tech University School of Law (2-0)
2. Loyola University Chicago School of Law (2-0)
3. University of Tennessee Knoxville College of Law (2-0)
4. Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent College of Law (2-0)
5. University of Iowa College of Law (2-0)
6. University of Kansas School of Law (2-0)
7. Regent University School of Law (2-0)
8. Stetson University College of Law (1-1)
9. University of Houston Law Center (1-1)
10. Loyola University New Orleans College of Law (1-1)
11. Creighton University School of Law (1-1)
12. Seton Hall University School of Law (1-1)
13. University of Colorado at Boulder Law School (1-1)
14. University of California Berkeley School of Law (1-1)
15. Seattle University School of Law (1-1)
16. Pepperdine University School of Law (1-1)

January 28, 2012

South Texas tightens grip on rule of moot court universe

South Texas College of Law won the fourth annual Moot Court National Championship competition today, besting 15 other top moot programs for ultimate appellate advocacy supremacy.* Saint Louis University School of Law finished second at the tournament, which is hosted by the University of Houston Law Center's Blakely Advocacy Institute and underwritten by a number of law firms, including the competition's main sponsor, Andrews Kurth, LLP. Florida Coastal School of Law and Stetson University College of Law finished as semifinalists.

South Texas hoisted the Best Brief trophy above its mighty head, while Alexander Landback from the University of Florida Fredric G. Levin College of Law was declared the nation's Best Speaker.

* Yes, there is some sarcasm to my voice. I poke fun not at South Texas, who, as everyone knows, IS the Emperor of the moot court universe, whether they have a Death Star tournament trophy to prove it or not. Hats off to them for an impressive run -- they were the only team to go undefeated in the prelims and continued that run en route to the title. But having attended the competition with my own team, it was somewhat amusing to hear the UH folks talk at every turn about how this is the TRUE national championship. And, hell, it may be. The level of competition, as it is every year, was incredibly fierce.

But I'm still disappointed that Houston chooses to run a behind-closed-doors competition, as opposed to the two other "major" tournaments (the National Moot Court Competition and ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition), where transparency seems to be the goal. I don't understand why other teams' identities and brief scores, as well as round results, need to be a secret. Blakely Director Jim Lawrence has told me in the past that he believes making such information public at the outset "changes things," and while I guess that's true in some respects, we ARE talking about a gathering of the best teams in the country. Can we not assume that our students are going to bring their "A Games" every time out? If you're 0-3 heading into your last round, doesn't it stand to reason that you're going to give it all you've got to pull out at least one win? If you're 3-0, wouldn't you think you'd be just as motivated to win and capture the #1 seed?

I also fail to see why we can't use our own timekeepers, as is the case at the NMCC and NAAC. In our last round, the UH student baliffing held up a "Stop" card to my advocate who still had one minute left of rebuttal time (without holding up any other previous time card to warn him that the "Stop" card was on its way). It resulted in an awkward exchange between the judge and advocate (and ultimately a terse instruction from the judge to sit down) that was entirely avoidable.

Anyway, just some grumblings from a coach likely fueled by disappointment that his team didn't finish better. Not that anything I just mentioned had anything to do with our finish (it didn't). Most everything else at the tournament was great, including a fantastic closing banquet at Vic & Anthony's Steakhouse attended by lots of lawyers from the sponsoring firms and real judges from both Texas and federal courts -- cool networking opportunity for the students.

I hope to have the opportunity to bring a team back next year...