A Winning Season for Extramural Moot Court Teams

Students Practice Oral Advocacy, Brief-Writing in Appellate Court Competitions Nationwide
Shanthi Rajagopalan '18 and Sarah Crandall '19

Shanthi Rajagopalan '18 and Sarah Crandall '19 took first place overall and tied for second place for their brief in the Thurgood Marshall Federal Law Competition.

April 13, 2017

Students at the University of Virginia School of Law picked up several awards at moot court competitions across the country this semester.

The Extramural Moot Court team fielded 18 teams of two who competed in 15 appellate moot court competitions in eight states and Washington, D.C., between January and April. The competitions test the students' ability to understand the law, analyze it and articulate it for judges through briefs and oral argument.

The teams had an "incredible" run this semester, said Extramural Moot Court president Sami Al-Marzoog. "The majority of our teams made it to the quarterfinals or better in their competitions."

Megan Shoell '18 and Kendall Burchard '19 Megan Shoell '18 and Kendall Burchard '19 placed first at the Craven Constitutional Law Competition.

Student teams' wins and awards include:

  • Megan Shoell '18 and Kendall Burchard '19 placed first at the Craven Constitutional Law Competition in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  • Shanthi Rajagopalan '18 and Sarah Crandall '19 took first place overall and tied for second place for their brief in the Thurgood Marshall Federal Law Competition, held in Washington, D.C.
  • Maya Rich '19 won best oralist at the 46th Annual Spong Constitutional Law Tournament in Williamsburg, Virginia.
  • Gary Dunn '18 and Sami Ghubril '19 advanced to quarter finals and had the third-best brief in the 46th Annual Spong Constitutional Law Tournament in Williamsburg, Virginia.
  • Henry Morris '18 and Luke Zaro '19 were semifinalists in the National Baseball Arbitration Competition in New Orleans.
  • Alyson Sandler '17 and Will Robertson '18 were semifinalists at the National Cultural Heritage Law Moot Court Competition in Chicago.
  • Trina Rizzo '19 and Olivia Vaden '19 were semifinalists at the Cardozo BMI Entertainment and Communicatinos Law Moot Court Competition, held in New York.
  • Jeremy Bennie '18 and Jeremy Carter '19 were finalists at the National Immigration Law Moot Court Competition in New York.
  • First-year students Scott Harman and Christopher Macomber made quarterfinals at the Green National Security Law Moot Court Competition in Washington, D.C.
  • Kain Day '18 and Chinmayi Sharma '19 won first place in the regional AIPLA Giles Sunderland Rich Moot Court Intellectual Property Law Competition in Washington, D.C. They are returning to D.C. to compete in the national competition April 19-21. Day won the national competition and was chosen as best oralist last year.

Chinmayi Sharma '17 and Kain Day '18 Chinmayi Sharma '17 and Kain Day '18 won first place in the regional AIPLA Giles Sunderland Rich Moot Court Intellectual Property Law Competition.

Al-Marzoog said the competitions give students significant practical experience in writing briefs, which are typically responsible for about 50 percent of the final score.

The written brief requirement is especially helpful to first-year students, he added.

"By the time [1Ls] get around to writing a brief for their spring legal research and writing class and doing their oral arguments, the students in moot court have already done it," Al-Marzoog said. "And often they already have a competition under their belts."

Those student competitors aren't on their own. Eighteen upperclassmen served as coaches this year, along with 15 coaches from the Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School, which is next door to the Law School. The JAG coaches, who are professional Army lawyers working on their master's degree in law, earn course credit for their efforts.

The moot experience is useful when students are seeking jobs and clerkships, too.

"When you apply to clerkships, typically judges will ask you if you're on law review or are doing moot court," Al-Marzoog said. "Some of them see it as something that is on par with being on law review. They understand the time that it takes and the skills that it builds."

Other Moot Court Activities

UVA Law also holds its own moot competition, the William Minor Lile Moot Court contest, an 88-year tradition. Third-year students Kyle Cole and Tuba Ahmed won the competition March 25. Ahmed was also selected as best oralist.

In February, six second- and third-year students made semifinals after completing five rounds undefeated at the Mid-Atlantic Super-Regional Tournament of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, the largest moot court competition in the world.

Kiersten Fowler '17 and Jasmine Alves '19 together won second runner-up in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Black Law Students Association Moot Court Competition and advanced to the National BLSA Moot Court Competition in Houston.

UVA Law also holds an internal mock trial competition annually in March for first-year students, the Cavalier Classic. The 2017 winners were Rebecca Chandler and Tom Watson.

During the spring semester of the yearlong Legal Research and Writing course, all first-year students write an appellate brief and argue their case before a three-judge panel. The school also offers several trial advocacy and public speaking classes that help students build upon their skills.

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