Moot Court Team Wins Regionals
Both Moot Court teams from the College of
Law did well in the recent regional competition
in Wyoming, with one placing first and moving
on to the national competition in New York.
The participants are pictured here with the
Dean and the professors who coached them.
Front row, from left, Professor Ralph Spritzer,
Will Luzader, Melissa Bengtson, Dean Patricia
White, Alastair Gamble and Professor Michael
Berch. Second row, from left, Todd Patterson,
Brent Roam and Daniel Seiden.
The team, Melissa Bengtson, Will Luzader and Todd Patterson, will go on to compete at the national contest in New York on Jan. 29.
The competition involves preparation of a brief and oral arguments that are evaluated by a panel judges.
"It mirrors what would happen in a normal courtroom while doing an argument," Bengtson said. "It shows you the importance of preparation and rehearsal."
Bengtson and Luzader gave the oral arguments for the team, which was coached by Professors Michael Berch and Ralph Spritzer. Tu-Nga Nguyen, a third-year law student, was the team administrator, facilitating practice rounds and coordinating with professors and lawyers from the community who volunteered to judge.
"You could tell our preparation was more intensive," Patterson said. "Will and Melissa had been grilled on one difficult question after another. As a result, they were very smooth and could think on their feet far better than the other teams."
Bengtson said one judge told Luzader that he had given the best oral argument she had seen in all the competitions she had judged.
During the competition, one of the judges asked Bengtson what lower court decisions supported her argument and she was able to rattle off seven or eight.
"They were very impressed," Patterson said.
The team's brief also won best brief. Each of the three wrote sections of the brief and Luzader wove them together to give them the same voice.
"I still use many of the tips I learned from my first-year writing professor, Amy Langenfeld," Luzader said.
Berch said one of the keys to victory this year was creating specialists on the team. Two of the three students presented arguments and one concentrated on writing. In the past, team members would rotate, which Berch said produced less consistent results.
"When you know you're going every time, you're better prepared," said Berch, who added the team was seasoned by competing last year.
"They learned from last year, eliminating whatever mistakes they had made," he said.
Spritzer said the competition gives students invaluable experience.
"Unlike law school, this is a direct and stimulating contact with the real world," Spritzer said. "The cases they compete with are those that take place in actual litigation."
A second team -- Alastair Gamble, a third-year student, and Brent Roam and Daniel Seiden, both second-year students -- advanced but lost in the quarterfinals.
"The quality of competitors this year was quite high," Gamble said. "In general the level of competition in each of the rounds was at the level of the later rounds in previous years."
The teams competed in the regional competition held Nov. 18-19 at the University of Wyoming College of Law.
More than 1,000 students from more than 165 accredited law schools participate in the competition, which is sponsored by the Committee on Young Lawyers of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York and the American College of Trial Lawyers.
The winning team is invited to the spring meeting at which the person chosen as the Best Oral Advocate is given the opportunity to address the College. The Fulton Haight Award ($2,500), funded by the Fulton Haight Fund of the Foundation of the American College of Trial Lawyers, is presented to the law school of the winning team.