Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Moot Courters Bloom with a Wide Range of Competitions

Published: March 27, 2015
Moot Courters
Moot Court AIPLA Members: Pamela Rivera and Sean Russell

The TJSL Moot Court Honor Society had an eventful semester filled with plenty of hard work, determination, and travel. Moot Courters went across the west coast to compete in some of the most prestigious moot court competitions, spanning from Washington state to Oregon. The semester was one of professional growth and everlasting memories.

Members devoted tireless hours during winter break, midterms weekend, and spring break. However, the sacrifices were well worth the rewards as members worked closely with numerous faculty members who generously devoted their time to helping members excel at understanding and presenting a vast array of legal topics.

The first competition of the semester was the Phillip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, which took place in Portland, Oregon. The team was comprised of Edith Polanco, Elizabeth Atkins, Daven Ghandi, Rachel Travis, and Danielle Tailleart. Jessup is the world’s largest moot court competition with over 550 law schools from over 80 countries participating in the competition annually. The competition is geared at simulating fictional disputes between countries. It requires relentless time and dedication by the students who participate as it takes a year to work on the problem reared towards international law.

Atkins said, “Jessup requires the advocates to learn international law by researching it, writing about it, and now arguing it; it expands the advocates’ understanding of law around the world.” Overall, the knowledge that Jessup competitors gained is one that every member saw as the highlight of experience.

However, the Jessup competitors also valued the rush of competing and building memories and bonds with their teammates. When asked about the competition, Travis’ sentiments served as the perfect example of what a valuable and worthwhile experience competing can be. She said, "The competition itself was exhilarating. I was a competitive athlete growing up, but haven't competed in years. I almost forgot what it was like to get the butterflies in your stomach right before you compete and the rush you get while in competition mode. Now that Jessup is over, a little piece of me is gone. The five of us worked so hard for seven months and then in two days we're done, it's over. Though the process was difficult and at times I wanted to throw in the towel, if I weren't graduating in December, I would 100% do it all over again. The knowledge, the prestige, and the friendships you gain throughout those grueling 7 months, make it all worth it."

The second competition of the semester was the American Bar Association National Appellate Advocacy Competition (NAAC), which took place from March 6th to March 8th. The team was comprised of Moot Court members Shahin Shahrostambeik, Chelsea Grover, Devin Mirchi, Taelor Cole, and their coaches Marisol Gonzalez and Ricardo Elorza. The issues for their competition were heavily based on civil procedure, allowing the moot courters to first handedly apply what they have learned in the classroom.

When asked to describe the feeling of competing, Grover said, “The competition experience was incredible. Something that I will never forget is the feeling that overcomes you immediately before you do your first oral argument of the competition. It is a mix of extreme fear, self-doubt, and nervousness. You feel like you are going to forget your argument, not be able to intelligently answer the judges’ questions, and not be able to mask the anxiety in your voice. But then something amazing happens! You begin speaking, and all the negative feelings go away. You're left with nothing but adrenaline and confidence.”

Grover’s sentiments were echoed by her teammate, Cole, who said, “Competing was such a rewarding experience. While my heart literally stopped every time I approached the podium, as soon as the questions started I was less and less nervous and felt confident in the answers that I provided to the judges. My teammate and I received some really positive feedback and great practical tips for us to use once we are out of school. It’s great to get that insight while in school because it’s not something that can be read or taught.”

Similarly, Mirchi said, “Each round is an adrenaline rush; it’s a feeling that has no equal in law school. It took a lot of work to get to the competition, but in the end it was all worth it. I was able to learn so much about the appellate process, oral advocacy, and strategy. It was an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world.” Shahrostambeik said, “Although the process was overwhelming and extremely time consuming, it was a great experience because I had the opportunity to argue my case in a federal courtroom and had the pleasure of working with a great group of friends." Like Jessup, the ABA NAAC competition was one that provided the competitors with a wonderful experience of preparing for a successful legal career in oral advocacy.

The third and final competition for the spring semester was the Giles Sutherland Rich Memorial Moot Court Competition in Palo Alto, CA. The competition took place from March 12th to March 15th and the team was comprised of Moot Court President Pamela Rivera, Sean Russell, and Michelle Ribaudo who served as the team’s coach. This year's problem was based on patent law and covered claim construction and publication, and required the competitors to prepare briefs as both the Appellant and Appellee. As challenging as the preparation was, it was not the only challenge that Rivera and Russell faced. Three days before their briefs were due, the Supreme Court issued an opinion in Teva Pharmaceuticals v. Sandoz, with its decision directly affecting the arguments of the competitors. Nevertheless, the teams’ hard work and diligence helped them succeed in the competition.

For Rivera, one of the most rewarding parts of the competition was furthering her knowledge of patent law. She explained the importance of the faculty members generously devoting their time in helping Moot Courters prepare for their competitions. Rivera said, “Professor Brenda Simon was instrumental in our oral argument preparation by providing great insight into the intricacies of patent law.” As for the actual experience of competing, Rivera explained how nervous public speaking used to make her. However, she joined Moot Court to conquer that fear, and has done just that with the help of the competitions and opportunities offered by the Moot Court Honor Society.

For Russell the competition was more about personal growth. Russell said, “I was also able to reflect on my own flaws and grow because I had a wonderful team supporting me.” He additionally added, “The old saying 'hard work pays off' is certainly true with moot court competitions and I realized the more work put in during the early stages will make the finishing touches much easier.”

In addition to their shared sentiments over the experience of competing, each member additionally shared the deepest of gratitude in the efforts of the professors who generously gave their time in helping the competitors become their absolute best.

While Moot Court is a wonderful opportunity for perfecting oral advocacy skills, it is also an opportunity to expand one's understanding in a vast array of legal topics. But the most important take away from moot court competitions is the memories the members form when competing, along with the opportunity of having a wide range of legal doors open for their legal careers.