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SKILL SHARPENER

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-

for him.

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

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Win or lose, Notre Dame’s team members

continued on back


SKILL SHARPENER

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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How to Be a Lawyer 101: Notre Dame's Moot Court Competitors Carry Skills into Chosen Legal Fields