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Moot Court

T.H., 1L

A 13-year old girl.  A collection of prescription pills.  A strip search.

Go.

Welcome to Moot Court (pre-part) – the appellate advocacy competition for 1Ls here at Yale Law School.  The competition takes place each spring, and draws a significant number of first-year to students to participate.  Each student is assigned to represent the appellant or respondent in a case, write a brief support their client, and argue in front of judges. 

Currently, I am the lawyer for the appealing party, which means I need to write a brief and on behalf of a school district and school officials accused of violating a student’s Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures during a search for prescription pills.

Officially, the Moot Court competition for first year students is billed as a way to prepare for the real show—the Morris Tyler Moot Court of Appeals— open to second and third year students.   The Moot Court competition has prizes, arguments in front of circuit and Supreme Court judges, and a giant reception.  For me, however, this “pre-part” has been a summer job preparation – a welcome and interesting diversion from my black letter law course readings, and even a bit of an ego boost.  Wading through my small-group brief last semester—with the help of a partner, the professor and TA, and a semester of grappling with the very area of law that formed the basis of the assignment—I never though I would be able to produce a brief, alone, in about a month, on an area of the law I knew nothing about until I started my research, but I have.

I’ve balanced all this researching and writing with different kind of applied law.  Every Wednesday night, I get to live out my Law and Order fantasies in Trial Practice, a course dedicated to the art of the trial process.  The first thing I learned: it’s not as easy as it seems on TV to get your opponent to break down on cross-examination.  In fact, it’s kind of impossible.  And come to think of it, even your own witnesses can be problematic, forgetful, compromised by a past crime, or downright untruthful.

But that’s the challenge of the competition: using the rules of evidence, your knowledge of the law, and your best performance skills to coax your theory of the case out of a diverse cast of characters. Of course, it helps that these witnesses and opponents are your classmates.  They may be playing an adverse witness, and playing it a little too well, but they’re always ready to help when you need it.  That’s how we operate here at Yale.  Overall, pre-part has been a unique and bracing experience that has forced me to think on my feet even more than last semester’s cold calling did.

Perhaps the greatest part of the competition is what I am learning is the stuff you can’t get out of a casebook.
It’s not as easy as it looks on Law and Order. If your classmates aren’t cooperating, a real witness certainly won’t. The concepts you learned in Torts are a lot harder to prove than they were to memorize.


T.H., 1L

A 13-year old girl. A collection of prescription pills. A strip search.

Go.

Welcome to Moot Court (pre-part) – the appellate advocacy competition for 1Ls here at Yale Law School. The competition takes place each spring, and draws a significant number of first-year to students to participate. Each student is assigned to represent the appellant or respondent in a case, write a brief support their client, and argue in front of judges.

Currently, I am the lawyer for the appealing party, which means I need to write a brief and on behalf of a school district and school officials accused of violating a student’s Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures during a search for prescription pills.

Officially, the Moot Court competition for first year students is billed as a way to prepare for the real show—the Morris Tyler Moot Court of Appeals— open to second and third year students. The Moot Court competition has prizes, arguments in front of circuit and Supreme Court judges, and a giant reception. For me, however, this “pre-part” has been a summer job preparation – a welcome and interesting diversion from my black letter law course readings, and even a bit of an ego boost. Wading through my small-group brief last semester—with the help of a partner, the professor and TA, and a semester of grappling with the very area of law that formed the basis of the assignment—I never though I would be able to produce a brief, alone, in about a month, on an area of the law I knew nothing about until I started my research, but I have.

I’ve balanced all this researching and writing with different kind of applied law. Every Wednesday night, I get to live out my Law and Order fantasies in Trial Practice, a course dedicated to the art of the trial process. The first thing I learned: it’s not as easy as it seems on TV to get your opponent to break down on cross-examination. In fact, it’s kind of impossible. And come to think of it, even your own witnesses can be problematic, forgetful, compromised by a past crime, or downright untruthful.

But that’s the challenge of the competition: using the rules of evidence, your knowledge of the law, and your best performance skills to coax your theory of the case out of a diverse cast of characters. Of course, it helps that these witnesses and opponents are your classmates. They may be playing an adverse witness, and playing it a little too well, but they’re always ready to help when you need it. That’s how we operate here at Yale. Overall, pre-part has been a unique and bracing experience that has forced me to think on my feet even more than last semester’s cold calling did.

Perhaps the greatest part of the competition is what I am learning is the stuff you can’t get out of a casebook.
It’s not as easy as it looks on Law and Order. If your classmates aren’t cooperating, a real witness certainly won’t. The concepts you learned in Torts are a lot harder to prove than they were to memorize.