National Jurist - September 2011 - (Page 26)
What makes a
moot court champion?
Moot court competitions allow schools to compete for bragging rights, and lesser known schools dominate the regional and national competitions. Here’s what makes these programs great By JAcK crittenden
s a law student at Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2007, Brian Koppen wanted to know how his school stacked up against others when it came to moot court performance. He knew his program was good, but how did it compare to Yale Law School, Harvard Law School and University of Pennsylvania Law School? With no ranking available, Koppen took it upon himself to create one. He gathered data on every competition and assigned points to finalists, semi-finalists and winners, based on the number of teams in the competition. The end result was that his school ranked third in 2007, behind South Texas College of Law and University of California Hastings College of the Law. Both of those schools have continued to dominate Koppen’s ranking. South Texas has taken the top spot every year, and UC Hastings has finished second, fifth and third. “The Ivy league programs are not the best,” said Koppen, who is now an attorney in Chicago. “It is almost a volunteer thing for them, and they don’t enter many competitions.” Koppen said the better programs audition students, have a full-time faculty member who oversees the program and engage alumni to help coach and judge students. “Any school can be competitive in this ranking,” he said. “It tells you which law schools are devoting resources to this extracurricular activity. If you want to do a competitive argument and develop into a good advocate, these programs excel at that.” Koppen’s ranking is not the only arbiter of moot court success. A few years ago the University of Houston’s Blakely Advocacy Institute star ted its Moot Cour t National Championship, an invitational event. To determine the top 16 moot court programs that would be invited, it started tallying winners. It has a more complicated point system, with some competitions receiving more points based on prestige, and programs earning points for best brief and best speaker honors. UC Hastings finished first in the ranking in 2010-2011, followed by Texas Tech University School of Law and George Washington University Law School. Mississippi College School of Law, which won the 2011 competition championship, finished fourth in the ranking. “Looking back, I recognize that moot court is more competitive [than when I was in school],” said Vicki Lowery, director of advocacy at Mississippi College School of Law who graduated from the school in 1998. “It has evolved to have more of a professional standard. I think that is very good for the students. It is a competitive environment.” Lowery said moot court is a competitive and fun opportunity to learn and not fear failure. “You can read a book about how to ride a bike, but it won’t help you ride a bike,” she said. “You have to practice it. Moot court is your opportunity to actually do
26 The NaTioNal JurisT September 2011
Brian Koppen’s 2010 Law School Advocacy ranking
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10 10. South Texas College of Law Texas Tech University UC-Hastings Loyola University - Chicago University of Texas University of Miami Brooklyn Law School University of Georgia Lewis & Clark Law School Baylor University Loyola – New Orleans
it — to ride that bike. The students leave confident that they know how to ride the bike and will be much more confidant advocates as a result.” Lowery has helped Mississippi College expand from three to five competitions a
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