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How to Be a Lawyer 101: Notre Dame’s Moot Court Competitors Carry Skills into Chosen Legal Fields [by Erica Winter] Jeremy Moseley and his moot court team partner represented Notre Dame at the National Moot Court Championships run by the American College of Trial Attorneys and held in New York this past February. They did not win. (They lost in the ﬁrst round.) “We did not do as well as we wanted,” says Moseley.
Still, Moseley and his partner, now third-
same as just thinking about them.
who embarked on this journey at the start of
Also, the brief writing part of competition
As part of the national team, Blanchard and
their second years, rising to the top of that
gives training in persuasive writing, Moseley
Moseley both went to the regional competi-
group to be chosen among the four students
says, and mirrors what a lawyer does in
tion in Indianapolis. The competition involved
who comprise Notre Dame’s National Moot
practice much more than a three-hour test.
arguing a fictional case that dealt with the
Blanchard first caught the moot-court
sue, making it both statutory and procedural.
years, were 2 of 40 Notre Dame law students
federal mail fraud statute and a tax court is-
Court Team. Charla Blanchard is also one of those four
competition bug after a first-year moot court
students. She and her partner went to
class. One of the judges who saw her give
While the format and logistics were the same
regionals, but did not qualify for nationals
an oral argument suggested she try out for
as she had experienced in her second year,
as one of the top two teams in the region.
the Notre Dame team. She signed up, along
the case itself was more challenging, says
Moseley’s team came in second at regionals
with 40 other Notre Dame students, at the
Blanchard, because it was split between
and also had the second-ranked brief at that
beginnng of her second year.
two entirely different subjects, and not two questions under one subject (such as the
competition of 16 law schools. By internal competition, this group of 40 was
First Amendment). Blanchard and her team-
National champions or not, being on the
whittled down to 10 students, who competed
mate made a strategy decision to split up the
moot court team can be “one of the most
against each other again in the second se-
tasks, with each tackling one subject. That
practical things you can learn in law school,”
mester of their second years. This group was
tactic, however, ended up making it more
says Moseley. There are two main skills
then ranked, with the top 4 becoming part of
difficult to collaborate with her partner in the
needed in moot court competition-speak-
Notre Dame’s national team.
competition, because they were each “in two
ing and writing-for simulated cases brought
separate worlds,” she says.
before an appellate court, often the United
Blanchard and Moseley actually com-
States Supreme Court.
peted against each other in the second-year
Moseley and his partner both chose to do the
competition, says Moseley. In their first
initial research on both subjects; this way,
Being on the moot court team “makes you a
semester, students had to argue both for and
they could bounce ideas of off each other
quick thinker,” says Blanchard. Competitors
against a First Amendment case on mixing
to develop their arguments on the separate
become accustomed to going out in front of
commercial speech and political speech to-
subjects, he says. They wrote their briefs
different types of judges, to speaking in front
gether. For the second semester, the 10 re-
separately but edited them together. “It took
of an audience, and to dealing with surprises.
maining students had to argue for or against
a lot more time to do it that way,” says Mose-
a Fourth Amendment case involving search
ley, but the strategy paid off.
Competitors must write a brief on the case,
and seizure issues. Both cases were modified
which is scored and worth 40 percent of the
from actual cases pending before the United
As one of 28 teams from 14 regions at the
team’s final score; then they must give oral
States Supreme Court at the time.
national competition, Moseley and his partner competed on the same case they had at
arguments, worth 60 percent, before a panel of judges-usually volunteer lawyers, judges,
The skills Blanchard and Moseley used as
regionals. (This year’s winners were from
or law faculty. Giving oral arguments re-
second-years are the same ones they use as
University of California, Hastings College of
quires quick thinking and an ability to focus
third-year competitors. The real challenge is
Law, San Francisco.)
on both sides of a case, says Moseley, and is
getting arguments “sharp enough to argue
the most enjoyable part of the competition
them,” says Blanchard, which is not the
Win or lose, Notre Dame’s team members
continued on back
will take their skills into their legal practice. Moseley will join the firm of Soulston Siefkin in Wichita, KS, and practice commercial litigation. He hopes to do appellate litigation someday; for now, he will flex “the brief writing skills I’ve developed,” he says. Blanchard will go to work for the Cook County (Chicago) government in the Office of the Public Guardian. She will act as a Guardian Ad Litum, representing children in neglect and abuse cases, where she will use her confidence before judges advocating for children.
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