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Lewis & Clark students dominate at moot court competitions

March 01, 2010

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    Executive Director Pamela Frasch, Animal Law Clinic Director, Kathy Hessler, and the animal law moot court team.

Three Lewis & Clark Law School moot court teams dominated in 2010 international, environmental, and animal law competitions this month. The environmental law moot court team took the national prize in their field and animal law came in second in their competition. The international law moot court team claimed the top spot in the Mid-Atlantic division of the Jessup International Law Moot Court competition, which earns them a berth at the international competition.

Regarded as the preeminent law school competitions, moot courts test skills in appellate brief writing and oral advocacy on issues drawn from real cases or issues and provide hands-on experience in litigation.

Lewis & Clark Law School has earned the top spot in the environmental law competition for the third time in a row and earned the top spot in the international law competition’s Mid-Atlantic division for the third time in five years.

According to Robert Klonoff, dean of Lewis & Clark Law School, these successes continue to grow Lewis & Clark’s reputation as a leader in the moot court competition field.

“These wins demonstrate that we have attracted some of the sharpest students in the country and that they are working with the best legal experts in their fields,” Klonoff said. “I’m proud of our hard working students and am grateful to the outstanding faculty and alumni who work tirelessly to help prepare our teams.”

Pace National Environmental Moot Court Competition

Students Ben Luckett, Lizzy Zultoski, and John Krallman triumphed over 83 other teams to win the Pace National Environmental Moot Court Championship. After advancing to the quarterfinal round with 26 other teams, this year’s trio beat out the University of Utah and Loyola of New Orleans in the quarterfinals, then Santa Clara and the University of Miami in the semifinals, and finally the University of Houston and the University of Wyoming in the finals. The 84 teams represented mark the largest environmental moot court competition in the Pace competition’s history.

Craig Johnston, a Lewis & Clark law professor who oversees the environmental law moot court team, said moot court competition helps law students prepare for the demands of ongoing learning and innovative thinking that their chosen profession requires.

“The main value of the environmental moot court program is that it shows the students what it takes to be an excellent advocate,” Johnston said. “There is nothing quite like finding out that even after you have written a brief and done 20 or more practice rounds, you still need to both keep learning and keep finding new ways to think about the issues. Our goal is to prepare the students for all the various questions and reactions judges may have in response to their arguments.”

This marks the third year in a row that Lewis & Clark has won this competition and the seventh victory in the last 17 years. This win makes Zultoski a two-time national champion in this competition. She joins Lewis & Clark Law School alumnae Nancy Perry and Jenifer Johnston as the only three students to qualify for this honor in the competition’s 22-year history.

Jessup International Moot Court Competition 

The Lewis & Clark Jessup International Moot Court team, including Lauren Cullop, Dan Rowan, Stephen Schwindt, Vince Sliwosky, and Joe Terrenzio, won the Mid-Atlantic Regional Competition and is headed for the Jessup World Cup next month.

This year’s Jessup problem weaved international business, environmental, and human rights themes in a case involving fictitious islands, which have a 200-year history of competing sovereignty claims to an island group, the islanders’ desire for self-determination, and contested corporate bidders’ rights to develop the islands’ rich seabed oil reserves.

Adjunct Professor Dagmar Butte ’91, who oversees the Lewis & Clark Jessup moot court team, said the competition is integral to a law student’s educational experience.

“In a fairly low-risk setting, students get to experience the thrill of advocating for a position using the law and the facts to persuade a finder of fact, and that is what real lawyering is all about,” Butte said. “It makes law school something other than an academic exercise and teaches confidence, creativity, and grace under fire.”

Lewis & Clark ranked first out of the 24 teams going into the quarterfinals, with a record of 4:0. The team defeated George Washington in the quarterfinals, American in the semifinals, and Georgetown in the final round. The team also won the regional award for best briefs. Out of 93 speakers, Dan Rowan and Vince Sliwoski tied for eighth place and Joe Terrenzio placed eleventh. The World Cup competition will be held in Washington, D.C., March 21-27.

National Animal Law Competition

Seven Lewis & Clark law students participated in the Seventh Annual National Animal Law Competition at Harvard Law School February 6-7. The Animal Law Competition is designed to test law students’ legal skills through exercises in appellate moot courts, closing arguments, legal writing, and lobbying. A total of 61 law students representing 22 law schools from around the country competed.

Pamela Frasch, executive director for the Center for Animal Law Studies, said the hands-on experience law students gain at the moot court competition is invaluable as graduates head into the professional legal setting.

“At the final round, the teams go head-to-head before a panel of federal court judges,” Frasch pointed out. “I can’t think of a better experience for students in law school that will prepare them for the practice of law, and when I talk to alumni who have done moot court, they uniformly point to that experience as the best and most valuable experience they had in law school.”

The 2010 Lewis & Clark team included:

    * Josh Allen  (moot court)

    * Mark Billingsley (moot court)

    * Jessica Su Johnson (closing argument and legislative drafting/lobbying)

    * Megan Lemire (legislative drafting/lobbying)

    * Bryan Telegin (moot court)

    * Erin Walkowiak (closing argument)

    * Tara Zuardo (moot court)

Telegin, who made it to the final round in 2009, and Billingsley earned a second-place finish in the appellate moot court competition. Walkowiak earned second place in the closing argument competition.

In this 2009 video, Kathy Hessler, director and clinical professor of the Animal Law Clinic, discusses the ways Lewis & Clark students prepare for the National Animal Law Competition.