preLaw - Fall 2016 - 46
Indeed, what litigator hasn't trilled
at the adrenaline rush associated with a
But slow down.
"A student needs to pound away at
the books before they start doing this,"
Treece said. "Nobody gets into varsity
moot court until they go through the
appellate advocacy class."
Many universities take great pride in
their sports teams. "We take that kind
of pride in going out and doing so well,"
Treece said of Houston College of Law's
moot court team.
Moot court competitions are not for
the faint of heart.
"My wife doesn't understand why I am
so mean to these students in moot court
practice," said Treece, sounding ever so
slightly like the intimidating professor
Charles Kingsfield in "The Paper Chase."
Of course, Treece noted, he is just playacting the angry judge role.
"Our theory is, if you can handle our
intense scrutiny, you can handle a client's
case," he said.
In a very competitive hiring landscape,
students who perform well in moot court
may get noticed by prospective employers.
" The general consensus of hiring partners at law firms is that moot
court is a valuable experience and a great
teacher for research and writing," said
Jim Lawrence, director of the Blakely
In one moot court, a Florida Coastal
School of Law competitor made such a
good impression that a judge handed her
his card and volunteered to provide her
with a recommendation should she need
Students at Stetson University also
have used the program to launch their
"When I was a student, I competed in
Belgium, Vienna and all over the world,
and probably argued no less than 40
times in front of everyone from practicing
attorneys to actual federal and appellate
court judges," said Jason Stearns, who
graduated from Stetson in 2008. "Stetson
is known nationally for grooming students for advocacy."
Today, Stearns is a complex commercial litigation attorney in Tampa. He volunteers to coach students and prepare
them for competitions.
Florida Coastal School of Law's Kolenc
said a background in moot court helps
lawyers even if they never go into court.
"As lawyers, students are going to be
put on the spot to have to give an answer,
whether in front of partners, in a courtroom or at a mediation," he said.
"I view moot court as a place where
the students, more than they might get
in a regular law class, learn how to be
advocates, learn how to think like lawyers, learn how judges think, learn how
to argue both sides of an issue, and learn
advanced research skills with the amount
of practicing they do."
To what extent prospective students
consider a school's moot court reputation - or even know what a moot court
is - is unknown. Texas Tech has been
proactive in its marketing efforts to help
prospects learn about its moot court
"It's sometimes hard to make the point
stick when undergrads don't know what
moot court is," Sherwin said, "but when
they start hearing about all the national
championships we've won and the amazing experiences our current students are
having traveling across the country and
competing, we start getting a lot of questions about the opportunities our program provides."
Winning, after all, can be addictive.
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